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Date of birth: May 27, 1985
Place of birth: Sichuan Province, China
Came to U.S. in: 2008
Has lived in Columbus since: January 2011
Works at: LHP Software as an embedded controls engineer
Education: Master’s degree in science from University of Electronic Science and Technology of China; master’s degree in engineering from Iowa State University
Family status: Single
Hobbies: Running, volleyball, golf and tennis; watching Chinese and American TV series and news on YouTube
When and why did you come to the U.S.?
I came in 2008 to study at Iowa State University.
Describe your first impressions upon arriving in the U.S.
I arrived in Iowa at night, so I didn’t really see anything until the next morning. When I walked out of my apartment, I noticed that I didn’t see very many people. I was used to a more crowded area. I grew up in a small town of about 30,000 and spent about 18 years there but then studied in Chengdu, which has about 7 million inhabitants. The few people I did run into in my first few days in Iowa were very friendly and smiled at me, which surprised me a little. In China, when people smile at you, it means that they know you. I also noticed that the food was very different, that people use a lot of air conditioning and that the temperature in the buildings was very low.
What differences did you notice in the educational systems?
In China, I think the professors do research just for the money, not because they necessarily like the research; whereas, in the U.S., I always felt that the professors were really interested in their research. Professors in China also do not spend as much time teaching their students as professors in the U.S., which helps explain why the quality of education here is higher.
What were the biggest challenges in adjusting to life in the U.S.?
Adjusting was not very difficult overall. Getting used to the cold weather was probably the biggest challenge. In Iowa it started to snow in October, and the temperatures were really low in the winter. Another student who was studying with me came from India, and he jokingly asked how many Indian students usually die from the cold weather here. Some of the cultural differences also took some adjusting. People in the U.S. say “thank you” a lot, to waiters, for example, when they bring you food. In China, we don’t really do that, because bringing you the food is the waiters’ task, and you take it for granted. And people will hold the door here for other people quite frequently. You can’t really do that in China, because there are so many people that if you held the door open for other people, you would never get in.
Describe your interaction with people in Columbus. Have they been friendly? Have you felt any animosity toward you?
The people are very friendly here. I haven’t met any people who were rude. In stores and restaurants people are always friendly. This is also a very safe town. In the summer of 2011, I lived in downtown Columbus and sat in front of the building one Friday when a policeman came up to me and asked to see my ID. That made me think that people here really care about people’s safety.
Do you have family in China? How do you stay in touch?
My parents and a younger brother are in China, and I went back this April. I don’t go back very often because getting a visa is such a long process. I call them every Friday evening (which is their Saturday morning).
How do you stay connected to your culture? What do you do on American holidays?
I still cook Chinese food at home, especially spicy Sichuan dishes, including mapo doufu (tofu with spicy sauce); but I really enjoy American food. I try to have dinner with others as often as I can. Eating in restaurants also gives me a great opportunity to eat different kinds of foods. I especially like steak, which I don’t know how to fix at home, so I like going to the Texas Roadhouse and Applebee’s.
I also hang out with members of the local Chinese community and young professionals I meet through LHP and Cummins. We talk about American and Chinese movies and sports. On American holidays I spend time with friends. I went back to spend time with my friends in Iowa one Christmas, and on July 4, some international friends of mine and I have gone to see fireworks in Louisville and Chicago.
What do you miss most about China?
My relatives, friends and classmates.
What advice do you have for other internationals who are just now arriving in Columbus?
Read the Welcome Guide and get in touch with local international organizations. The Visitors Center also is very helpful and can put you in touch with organizations such as CAMEO and tell you about events such as the Ethnic Expo. Newcomers can easily meet locals by joining some of the many activities that are being offered here.
What do you like best about living in Columbus?
I have a lot of good friends here, and the city is very nice and peaceful. I don’t have a long commute, and the weather is also very good compared to Iowa.
What’s your favorite place to visit and why?
Chengdu. I spent five years there and developed many friendships. I’ve visited other big, beautiful cities, but the friendships are what’s important.
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