HOME AWAY FROM HOME: FINDING MY WAY IN A NEW CULTURE

By: VINCENT HUANG – STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER, GRAD. STUDENT

Editor’s note: this is the first in a series of columns in which international students are invited to write about their transition to life in the U.S. To find out more information about this project and how to get involved, contact editor@udayton.edu.

Even two years after leaving China to study for my Master of Business Administration, I clearly remember my excitement when I received the University of Dayton’s admissions offer.

In fact, to me, it seemed like study abroad would not be a very big challenge because of my seven prior years’ boarding school experience from high school to college in China. I naively thought nothing would change much but language.

However, the reality was not that simple. The language barrier can be overcome through short-term intensive training, but the differences in personal values and cultural tradition from China to America require a long-term adjustment.

I, like most Chinese of the younger generation, was used to listening to my parents’ advice and following the plan that they drew for me. Within this plan, most of life’s the troubles can be solved by the family and the younger generation may get a comfortable life. Meanwhile, I can even foresee most of the tipping points in my life.

This outlook began to change after I came to UD. I learned that I should pursue my independence, not just live under my parents’ wing. It’s not just because of the loneliness and pressure of living in a foreign country; it’s also because of the unforeseeable situations that I experience and the different people that I meet.

I always hear stories about how some foreign students find jobs in America, some foreign students achieve better future study opportunities and some domestic students give up their jobs and go back to school. These vivid and varied samples let me know how intense the competition is and that I cannot achieve my full potential if I do not find my own way, instead of abiding by my family’s plan.

Thus, early this year, I started working on campus to accelerate the process of blending in with UD campus life and preparing for my future career. At present, I hold three on-campus jobs: staff photographer for Flyer News, sales assistant at the UD Bookstore and treasurer of the UD Graduate Students Association. Don’t worry, I’ve found the balance between study and work. Moreover, I trust the more I can study, the more I will improve my success in these jobs and in future endeavors.

Thanksgiving is coming. For some people, Thanksgiving means big sales, but for me, this year’s Thanksgiving must be different from previous years’. Because I‘d like to say thanks to my friends, no matter what kind of roles you play in my life. You’re helping me to grow up and find my way.