I went to four years of high school in the United States. I spent the first year of high school in Boston, Massachusetts. Then I transferred to a private high school in Nashua, New Hampshire, for the rest of my high school life. When I considered college, I realized that I wanted to study in a place that has a rich history like Boston and was as beautiful as Nashua, so Philadelphia became the perfect match. Eventually, I became part of the Center for American Language and Culture at Temple University, and it helped me a lot with my English skills through great English lessons and opportunities. For example, every year, Temple University has “You Are Welcome Here” week, which are the events that help international students blend in with American campus life. For American students this also is a great way to know about different cultures. Temple University became my top choice. Since I have a lot of experience with how to embrace life in the United States, I decided to share some advice with my readers.
Many international students are afraid to step out of their comfort zone and try new things. I know it will take courage to step out, but four years of college is equal to 48 months and 1,460 days. So take this opportunity to try new things, like learning a new language, a new musical instrument, or more. For me, setting up a goal or making a college bucket list helped me move out of my comfort zone. Frankly, if I never left my comfort zone, maybe I would never have found out how much I love the German language and Scottish bagpipe. Beyond that, it can help you get to know this world a little better and gather different views from different people.
At Temple University and in the Center for American Language and Culture, we have a diverse international community. I can feel how Temple not only teaches me knowledge from a textbook but also prepares me to become a global citizen.
When I start class as a freshman this semester, here is what a typical day for me might look like: Every day, I will start by praying to God, then I go to my African dance class in the morning. At lunch, I like to eat Greek Gyro from the food truck on campus. In the afternoon after my English class, I will take my German class and practice my Irish tin whistle skills. I can also catch the newest Chinese movie at Temple University's movie theater. After all my work is finished, I will have a tea chat with my Dutch roommate about Brexit or refugee issues in Europe.
My point is, at Temple University, you realize that you are no longer just on campus or in Philadelphia. You are in someplace even more significant and even more comprehensive: you are in the world. Experiences at TCALC and as an international student demonstrate that the world is surrounding you, and you are part of it, especially at Temple. People at Temple University are willing to know you and your culture, and they also want to know what happens on the other side of the world. So always be willing to share with classmates about your country's fun facts. Another great way to make friends is by joining clubs and organizations, where you will find people who have the same interests as you. It’s a great way to make American friends. For example, I went to Maryland for a fencing tournament, and I was able to not only make friends with Temple students but also meet people from other schools. It was fabulous.
College is a place that makes people think differently. It not only gives you knowledge but also shapes your world and your values. Be yourself and make smart decisions in college.
Zenan ’Vincent’ Shen of The People’s Republic of China is a part of the Center for American Language and Learning at Temple University in Philadelphia.