With excitement and expectation, five of us finally arrived from Beijing Royal School on the night of August 8th in Raleigh, North Carolina. Mr. Chen, from the office of the Fazheng Group and NC State International Affairs, picked us up at the airport, and with their support we settled down at Lake Park smoothly. Shasha, Ying and I share an apartment, while Jiarui and Mei share an apartment with Jennifer, a colleague from BRS who has been here for over a year. The apartments are clean and cozy; the community is quiet and close to a shopping center. We like our new home!
After we checked in with The Office of International Servcies (OIS) on August 10th, we attended the orientations given by OIS, the NCSU Graduate School, and the NCSU College of Education in the following days. These orientations helped us a lot by providing us with detailed information on every aspect of the school and opportunities for us to meet new friends. More importantly, we got an idea of how academic life can be different depending on how proactive we are. We were a little nervous, but also excited to get started!
We began our first class on August 20th. All of us have a distance-education courses and a course at The Friday Institute; four of us have two courses at Poe Hall, where the College of Education is located; Ying has a different course at Withers Hall. Being a student again in an American classroom is exciting and challenging because it’s much different from a traditional Chinese classroom where most of us received our education. One big challenge is to get involved in the discussion and to generate questions. Sometimes we may “get lost” because we cannot follow American classmates when they speak fast, and sometimes we just feel nervous to raise our hands. However, all of us are trying our best to improve our participation in class day by day, and we feel proud for making a change!
Being in this new environment, we will experience “culture shock” to varying degrees. We are fortunate and appreciative that the College of Education provides various opportunities for us to learn about cultural differences and accept new things in a positive and objective way. One opportunity is the course of Selected Topics in Chinese and American Education, instructed by Dr. Spires at The Friday Institute. In her class, we are exposed to research on the foundations of both Western and Eastern education, and we feel comfortable to talk about our concerns and discuss the differences between eastern and western culture and education. From her class, we have grown to understand that we all embody a certain culture that has existed and evolved for a long history, which makes us who we are.
Another learning opportunity about culture was provided at the building of Partners II, where Dr. Ivonne helped us work in a range of cross-cultural projects: we met the student teachers who will go to Beijing Royal School for their internship and talked about the differences in American and Chinese classrooms. We also worked with Dr. Ivonne and Ruoxi, a counseling student, on the analysis of the status and causes of culture shock. We are glad to have a chance to look at ourselves in an objective way and appreciate all of the cultural diversity.
Apart from enjoying learning, we also enjoy our life here. Our favorite place to go in our leisure time is Lake Johnson. The lake is so beautiful and tranquil and surrounded by trees. We all enjoy going for walk there in the morning or after dinner.
It’s unbelievable that we have already been in Raleigh for almost one month! We want to enjoy every minute of learning and living here and take in all the new experiences. Some day when we look back, we will definitely be proud and grateful.