Xing Zou, November '15

Each month, Office of International Students and Scholars introduces one international student/scholar by highlighting their cultural background, personal experience in both home country and U.S. It is our hope that this mini introduction will help Lehigh community to have a better understanding of the international students and scholars on campus. We encourage every student to participate in this activity. If you would like to be featured, send your message to intnl@lehigh.edu.

1) Tell me a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? What are you studying here at Lehigh? When will you be done with your studies? 
Thanks for your question! I am from China and my name is Xing Zou but my friends always call me XingXing. They usually double the first name like to.. that means we have a good relationship, we have good friendship – something like that. I also have an American name that is Elaina. So I’m from China, Hunan province. It is located in southern China, in the middle part so I’m from a.. not a big city but it’s very beautiful. For me, I finished all my undergrad studies in China for three years and during the senior year, I went to Boston for my senior study. So I have stayed in Boston for one year. I then I went back to China during May and then I got my degree and then I came here for a master’s study in College of Education – Instructional Technology major. I think it’s a 30 credits course and I think I will be graduating at 2017.

My graduation in China.

2) So far, what do you think about Lehigh? Do you like the campus? The faculty? The students? Your housing?
I like Lehigh especially the environment – the campus. I came here during the summer so it’s really cool like walking around the campus and you are surrounded by so many trees. I think my favorite season on Lehigh campus is the Fall. So.. so many leaves falling down from the trees and it’s kind of like when you’re walking around campus, you feel like you are surrounded by so many lives. I’m kind of thinking like I’m not alone, I have so many lives around me. About faculty - so for me, I just finished Step Up English courses where I have four teachers and they are very supportive. For me, I really feel touched is that those four teachers, they kind of support each other. So for us, we are kind of having one course instead of having four separate courses. So I just feel not as stressed out but very… get a lot of support from all four teachers. And for students, I think here I could meet a lot of students that are from all over the world. So I feel like campus is like a global community so I could talk to people from Egypt, from South Asia or from Europe so it’s really a very good experience. For my house, I think it’s pretty close to campus and though it is an off-campus house. I have great roommates and two of them are PhD students so I could kind of experience what PhD students life through their own.. through my observations. They are pretty busy and work until night so I kind of encourage me to study harder in order to be more competitive.

Meeting Lehigh's president, John Simon.

3) While you're only just beginning to discover America in terms of the culture, language, ideals, and traditions, what have you learned so far?
I think like Americans.. based on my own experiences, the people that I have been in touch with, they are pretty stressed on individualism. It’s very hard for me to understand at first since, for me, I’m really kind of.. really talkative and everybody just.. when they finish their work, they just go. So for me, I’m kind of more.. prefer some kind of gathering, talking – something like that.

4) What is the most obvious difference between American culture and the culture in China?

Yeah I think it’s just like what I mentioned. They.. American people, they stress individualism but for Chinese people, they prefer solving some problems like with a lot of people. For example, like when I decided which college I’m going to attend, I would ask a lot of my family to give me advice. And they are likely to give me a lot of advice. Sometimes I’m feeling too overwhelmed by them but when I heard from my professor’s story and she said they.. children got 18 years old and they are really excited that their children could move out of the house and have their own life, leaving the parents alone in the family. That is totally different. For us, even for some.. yeah no, we kind of live together. But for me, I’m personally preferred to live by myself until after I get married haha.

5) Describe what daily life is like for you in China.
Uh when I was in college in China, I would get up in a very early time in the morning. For example, like 5 o’clock but I think it’s not gonna happen here since it’s very cold during the winter. But for me, I get up very early and then I start English. I usually read some articles or even essays and then just read it aloud and then recite it. Then I would do some exercise – I would do some freestyle basketball exercise with my teammates and then at about 8 o’clock, I would have my courses and the whole morning was courses. When I finished, I would eat in the canteen and then go to my dormitory to have some nap but I think here, people still work during the noon and won’t have a nap. Then I just go for other courses and then eat and then maybe for some jogging in the field that people usually play in soccer. Over here, people are just running along the street so it’s not gonna happen. So my life in college in China was most probably always study and maybe have some shopping during the weekends.

Freestyle basketball.

6) What are your hobbies? Interests? You mentioned basketball, do you have any others?
I like doing calligraphy. When I was young, I practiced a lot and I pretty enjoyed it because it kind of gave me a peaceful heart especially when I just cannot calm down. And I also like traveling but since I came to the United States, I feel like maybe the point is not like how many cities you have really traveled but how much you have known about the city or just a small town. So I want to kind of know more about cultural things by traveling. And also reading and I also really enjoy listening to some music.

Doing calligraphy back home.

7) What kinds of adventures have you been on here in the US?

Last year, when I was in Boston, my friends.. they drove me about two hours to another mountain for hiking. So that experience really impressed me a lot since you know, in China, it’s kind of very hard to imagine that you just drive two hours in order to do some hiking. And that mountain is not a famous mountain. It’s just a very normal and a very beautiful.. have very beautiful scenery. We had walked about two hours long and I think it was an adventure.

Eating Boston Lobster.

8) What do you miss most about China?
I really miss my parents. I kind of really miss the feeling like always being taken care of by them. Like when I would study at night, my mom would always like send me a cup of tea in order to help my conscience in order to study. And her eyesight, she always look at me with that warm feeling so I really miss my parents. And I really hope that they could live their life happy in China without me.

10) Could you like to share one tradition that is unique and important in China?
I think maybe it’s about my birthday. For my family, we pretty stress the celebration of birthdays so during the morning my mom will cook noodles for me because the noodles represent healthy and longevity. So my parents just hope for me that I could live a happy life. And then I always want to do something special for my birthday – always like do a breakthrough of my life. Sometimes I will invite my friends for birthday cake. Usually my mom.. my parents would buy me a birthday cake and then sit around, sing a song, make a wish and just have some happy time with all the family and friends.

11) If someone was going to visit your home country, what would you tell them to do there and where would you tell them to visit?

Usually, I feel like because a lot of foreigners, when they visit China, they always go to those big cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hong Kong. So I personally suggest that they could go to some remote places. If that’s possible, I really hope they could like help us Chinese rural education. They need.. their English needs improvement and they pretty.. hope to have some talking or relationships with outside world. And especially for those rural places, the sceneries are so beautiful and the air is very fresh just like as fresh as the United States.

My favorite dish back home.