1. How many countries have you been to and which country besides the US did you stay for the longest period?
I have been to countries including Great Britain, France, Italy, Switzerland, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Malaysia. I grew up in China so of course I stayed in China for the longest period.
2. What was the main reason you left your country? What did you do after you move?
The main reason I left China was that my parents wanted to send me to the US for better education, so I moved to the US right after I graduated from my middle school. I attended high school, which is Dwight, after I moved to NYC, and I will attend college in the US as well.
2. Were there other reasons that motivated you to move?
As the decision was made by my parents, I did not have much to say about it. However, I have to admit that one of the reasons that I did not feel reluctant studying in the US was that I thought students here do not have much pressure about their academic performance. Although I found myself wrong after I moved, I still think that at least US students have a better school life than Chinese students generally do.
3. How did you choose where you would move?
My parents chose to move to NYC because one of my cousins lives near Manhattan, so they thought maybe she could take care of me after I moved. Also, my father likes big cities, and my hometown in China, which is Fuzhou, is also a city (but not as big as NYC), so he thought I would get used to the new environment more quickly in NYC.
4. Who helped you in the US?
All my teachers and classmates at Dwight helped me a lot. As my English skill was very poor in my first year at Dwight, most teachers allowed me to use translator in class, and other students also helped me to keep track of class materials.
5. What kind of help did you need most?
I struggled a lot when learning how to take subways and to see the subway map. When I moved to NYC in 2014, my hometown did not develop a subway system yet so I never really took subways. The subway map here looked so complicated at first, and I mistook the express train for local train for several times. Therefore, until now, I still have a habit of making sure the train I am taking and the subway station I am going before I actually go out.
6. What is the biggest cultural difference between the US and China?
I would say the food culture. When I first moved to the US, I could not really get used to the food here because many people here like to eat bread, or bagels, which I did not like. Instead I like eating rice and noodle, and although there are so many Chinese restaurants here, I feel like they all taste different from the food I had in China. Also, another interesting fact is that the McDonald’s tastes very very different in the US and China, and I have to say I love the McDonald’s in China more because everytime when I order the Happy Meal, I can get different toys. (correct me if McDonald’s here has toys as well 😉 )
I got this from KFC’s happy meal in China. I don’t have toys from McDonald’s with me right now but you get the idea.
7. How did your lifestyle change?
As I mentioned before, the transportation in NYC is very convenient so I hung out with my friends a lot when I was in 10th and 11th grade. In my hometown, although the transportation was not bad but I had too much school work so I did not really have time to go out and relax.
8. Did it have an effect on family relationships?
I would say not really. My mother lives with me now and my father has his own business in China. My mother and I go back to China during every winter and summer break, and we basically meet my father twice a year, each time we live together for one or two weeks, which is not so different from the times we met when we were living in China. My father is very busy with his business and he works in another city, so we usually use social media to talk to each other.
9. Did you have to learn a new language?
Yes. My English has improved a lot since I moved to the US, and at first it was kind of ironic for me to feel that even though I had studied English for more than five years in China, I could not even communicate fluently with people here. However, I soon realized that the environment is very important for language learners. In the US, everyone around me at school are talking in English, and I complete all my homework assignments (except for Mandarin) using English, so it really provides me a perfect environment to learn and practice my English skill.
10. How could you manage learning different languages in a short time?
This question does not fit me very well because I can only speak Mandarin and English, although I can also read Japanese but I spent a long time learning it by myself, as well as learning English. However, I do feel that talking to native speakers and observing the way they talk are very important to practice oral skill. Also I think just memorizing vocabularies or grammars does not work for me, so maybe it is also important to actually understand and use them in writing or speaking. I knew a guy in China who incorporated all the SAT vocabularies he learnt into a love letter to his girlfriend, and I believe this is also a good way to learn a new language. 🙂