Coming to college as an international student is a daunting experience; leaving your home to move to a foreign country with a foreign language and a new culture is uncomfortable.
Finding your place at a new university is crucial in finding a sense of belonging and comfort. Graduating senior Tina Liu, originally from Qingdao, China, found her sense of belonging in the Department of East Asian Language and Cultures. Her first language is Chinese, but she also studies Japanese at Wake Forest.
“I came to Wake Forest because I always wanted to attend a small college and Wake Forest was the only university I applied to, others were liberal arts colleges. I found Wake unique as a university because it combines liberal arts college characteristics,” Liu said. “I choose to major in Japanese because I have been interested in Japanese culture since high school, and I thought it was a good opportunity for me to make it a focus of my undergraduate studies.”
The decision to study Japanese was not always Liu’s plan. Coming to university from China, there were expectations from her parents and other students to study certain areas to prioritize post-graduate employment. After taking various classes, she decided to follow her passion for studying language.
“I tried to choose my major as accounting sophomore year, but I just found every class so painful to take,” Liu said. “Even my parents told me that accounting would easily help me find a job after I graduated. I struggled and decided to double major in Japanese and Communications even though I couldn’t locate a career direction with these two majors, but I really enjoyed almost every class from these two majors.”
One of Liu’s biggest lessons at Wake Forest was to follow her passions and make decisions for herself — the decision to study Japanese and Communications was just one example of this. She also joined the Global Research and Assessment Team with the Center for Global Programs and Studies as a Global Outreach Intern.
Also throughout her time on campus, Liu has committed her experience to helping other international students with their adjustment to Wake Forest. She co-authored a story on Esource, an online publication from the National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition, about how international students can better transition to university in the U.S.
Now about to graduate, Liu is able to reflect on her most important places on campus. While she has grown more comfortable with the university and what it means to be a student here, one specific place on campus will forever stay important to her.
“I will most miss my time in the East Asian Language and Cultures department; it is a small department and I am familiar with every professor,” Liu said. “I truly felt that I’ve been respected and taken care of through these classes. For my other major (Communications), I sometimes just sit there and listen instead of voicing myself.”
Upon graduating, Liu plans to continue her studies at Columbia University; Liu plans to complete her Masters in Communication in the Teachers College.