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My SAU Experience

January 2014

In her own words, Master of Accounting student Xiao Chen writes remarks about her experiences as an American student.

She graduates in May.

You never grow up until you get into a new place

Can you speak to a stranger and make friends with them using another language? Can you keep your mind in an unclear situation and try to find out a good way by yourself? Can you treat failure as normal and insist on pursuing your dream? Can you familiarize with being lonely in a different country? One year before, I would definitely say no. It seems difficult and there was no motivation to make me do it. But now, I can and I did it. How amazing to find myself becoming more brave, mature and stronger. If I were still in China, I would never grow up that fast. And what is the best? I feel more comfortable to adjust to new environments and face challenges more directly.

A smile is the shortest distance between people

The first thing I learned from Americans is to smile. In China, we don't smile to a stranger (it is strange and will let people think you want something from them). But when I meet people on campus, they smile at me even though I am a stranger. This warm smile brightens up my day and I will smile at others too. The most helpful smile is the smile from professors. Their smiles encourage me to speak up in class.

The most powerful smile is the smile from my friends. Their smiles make me calm down and help me stand up when I failed or worry about future. The most thankful smile is from all the people who smile when I feel embarrassment or that I did something wrong. Their smiles make me relax and do better next time. I cannot count all the smiles that appeared during this year. But smiles are everywhere on campus and this is one of the reasons I like St. Ambrose.

I am rich because I have friends from all over the world

Have you tried Mexican cake? Have you dressed in Indian dresses? Do you know how to write your name in another language? Being a student at St Ambrose helped me make a lot of international friends. It is not only a good chance to know other country's cultures without travel around the world, it is also an opportunity to help me improve my communication skills.

However friends are not just like that. I had a hard time this summer holiday. I suddenly knew I needed to find a new house for 4 people because my former landlord passed away. The worst part was I needed to move out of campus within three weeks.

It is hard to find a house for a group quickly, and I needed to find a house by myself because the other three people were not in America. I was stressful, anxious, and felt helpless during that time. I was worried that I could be homeless after three weeks. My dear friends got me through the hard, sad, and confused times. They cared about my situation every day. They took me to see a house. They gave me confidence that I can find a house suite for everyone. Dramatically, I found a perfect apartment on the last day, and my friends helped me moved into the new apartment later. I am appreciative that I have those good friends in America to help me. Friendship between us is a diamond, buried in the earth, a treasure of great worth and I mined it.

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all

Study Abroad not only includes studying, but also getting involved in school activities. I take a lot of time to experience different activities and being a member in different clubs. I am not worried if I fail in any activities or jobs. The most important thing is stand up and try again.

There are a lot of great experiences with my friends when we became volunteers in the Killer Bee [marathon], BEE The Difference Day, Café on Vine, and the Diversity Festival. I am admiring how Americans insist on volunteering.

I and other Chinese students celebrated a special Chinese Festival at St. Ambrose. We gave "Lucky Envelopes" at the Spring Festival; taught students how to make dumplings; and introduced moon cake to students at the Autumn Festival. We even volunteered at a Children's Camp to introduce Chinese culture.

Last semester, Cathy Toohey from International Studies asked if someone can do some performances, so I decided to have a traditional Chinese dance with my friend, Carrie. We performed our dance in the Fashion Show and My SAU Experience. Moreover, I got more people to dance with me this semester. Ruth, Olivia, Carrie and I performed Indian Style in the LIVE @ HIVE. When I posted our picture on Facebook, I got the highest number of LIKES in my history. So it looks like our performance was great!

One of the amazing things is being an executive member in CAB. I helped CAB prepare Welcome Week, Homecoming week, Family Weekend activities, and a BIG CONCERT. People there are nice, creative, and brilliant. It will take me a long time to catch up to their steps. But I believe if I keep learning from them and develop my strength, I will catch up and do better!


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