University of Iowa junior Xinran Gu hasn’t spent time with her parents since June, and the idea of seeing them over winter break helps her push through finals week. “I feel very excited because they have never traveled to America, and this will be their first time,” she said. “They have a lot of questions … and they want to explore more.”
Did you have a wonderful Thanksgiving break? Did you eat well, rest well, and study well? For most American students, it seemed as if all of you went back home to your families to enjoy the annual feast, with turkey, mashed potatoes, and delicious pies. But most international students, including me, prefer to travel around the United States, even some of the world, because a 12-hour flight back home is kind of expensive.
My initial impression of American fashion came from the television show “Gossip Girl.” I used to watch the series during high school when I was in China, and I was immediately attracted to the fashion. I thought everyone in the U.S. would dress this way and that fashion was everywhere. But when I arrived here, the fashion wasn’t exactly what I dreamed. I was disappointed by what I observed because fashion is, in fact, not everywhere. Instead, it is full of casual shirts, sweatpants, and slippers. As I’ve gradually begun to experience more of the United States, my mind has changed toward fashion, especially when comparing it with China.
The United States has seen a rapid increase in the number of graduate students from India, according to a recent study, and the University of Iowa fits right in, though officials believe there’s more that can be done recruiting Indians to Iowa City.
Studying abroad, both to the United States and overseas, has increased nationally and locally — which some University of Iowa officials say is due to a more interconnected world. “The world is getting smaller,” said Georgina Dodge, the UI chief diversity officer and an associate vice president. “It is becoming easier to travel abroad … [and more] information has traveled between countries.”
China has more than 5,000 years of history. Because of this, there is a lot of cultural heritage. An example of this is the four main classical novels about Chinese history. Journey to the West, which some Americans refer to as "monkey," was created by Wu ChenEn in the Ming Dynasty. The other three novels are Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Dream of the Red Chamber, and Water Margin. All four books are regarded as "must-haves" for Chinese children.
In ancient China, marriage is always fixed by your parents. Normally, it takes six etiquettes to become a legal couple. The first stage is to propose. The boy’s family needs to invite a matchmaker (In Chinese, meipo) to propose the marriage to the girl’s family. Once it’s a successful match, the dual families need to give presents to show their gratitude toward the matchmaker. Before this, the boy and girl have not seen each other.
Halloween’s novel activities of pumpkin carving, dressing in costume, and eating candy corn are tradition to most students at the University of Iowa. These traditions are now also being shared with international students at the university in attempt to better incorporate them into Iowa culture. Life in Iowa, an ongoing orientation program sponsored by the UI International Student and Scholar Services, put on a pumpkin carving event Thursday night for International students.
Americans are not the only ones excited about Halloween today. I know I speak for Chinese students when I say many of us are really looking forward to the evening's festivities. My friends and I want to carve our own "jack-o'-lantern," dress up, and attend parties.
Citizen diplomacy may well be our state’s most valuable export. For more than 50 years, Iowa has been front and center in volunteer, people-to-people diplomacy through our long tradition of Sister State relationships. Sister State exchanges bring the world to our doorstep and have helped Iowa build deep and lasting friendships throughout the world, resulting in greater cooperation and trade.
Page. Pitch. Peach. Three words, three very different meanings. But do you think I can pronounce them very well? Let’s just say it took a lot of practice — and I’m still having trouble with the middle one. I’m told that Americans don’t have the same trouble with these words. But for a Chinese speaker such as me, the vowels prove to be very difficult.
Imagine leaving your home behind to study in a new country. As international students will tell you, it’s a difficult process. “It’s not very easy in the beginning when we came here,” RuiHao Min, a senior marketing and economics student at the UI says. Since starting AiCheng magazine last May, Min realized that the student-run publication has the potential to benefit future international students adjust to American culture, in addition to current students who wish to tell their stories.
What I have learned living in Iowa is that no matter where you live, geography does not affect your musical taste. My older cousin Sizhao Wang, living in Xi’an, China, is an example of this. The 24 year-old has a bedroom full of posters of Usher. He has every CD, knows every song, and even took an airplane to see the live concert held in Beijing several years ago. But being 8,000 miles away means he has to wait a couple months to buy the CD, he can’t go to a concert very often, and he can’t buy a celebrity magazine to read the gossip. Yet with all these obstacles, my cousin still loves Usher.
“The Rise of Public Opinion in China,” an upcoming international conference at the UI, will bring together leading scholars and distinguished guest speakers Friday and Saturday, October 18-19, 2013, on the University of Iowa campus.
In this three-part series for The Daily Iowan, UI international student from China Lu Shen shares her reflections on being an international student at the University of Iowa and in Iowa City.