International Humans of Mizzou: Domestic, international students share their study abroad experiences

Students explain the differences between college in their respective countries and where they went to study.

Xuezhao “Roxanne” Wan

Roxanne Wan went to Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Australia in spring 2019. Originally from Dali, China, Wan is a senior studying digital storytelling.

“Life here was so much harder than I imagined. I feel like if you are a foreigner in China, people treat you so much nicer. But when I came here, I was just one of the many international students. I had a hard time making friends outside the Chinese group. I am Chinese and that’s how people see me first. People don’t see me as Roxanne. People always say you are Chinese. That made me feel bad for a long time because I feel like they tried to isolate me and treated me differently. [Studying abroad in Australia] gave me a new perspective. I am from a little town in China and then I went to a bigger city for high school. In high school I didn’t really get to go out because it was a boarding school.”

“Then I came to Missouri and I realized I never really truly [lived] in a big city. So I was curious which life I would like more. So I went to Melbourne. It is not a huge city, because it is big enough and it is very diverse. When I went there, I realized I really like city life. When I was in the U.S., everything was taught from the American perspective. When I went to Australia, I started seeing things from the Australian perspective. I am also very interested in Sociology, so I took four Sociology classes. And funny enough, in many of those classes, they used American society as the sample model. I relearned America through the Australian perspective. It helped me to think and made me realize there are so many views you can get even if you are looking at the same thing. That made me realize that maybe in the future when people ask me should I go study abroad. I will tell them to think through it thoroughly. Because not everything is going to be perfect, in reality, there are way more drawbacks compared to opportunities. And you need to have the mentality to face these drawbacks.”

Emily Rong

Emily Rong has done three study abroad trips in Japan, Italy and Greece throughout her time at MU. Originally from Columbia, Missouri, she is a junior studying health science with an emphasis on health administration.

“My first study abroad was in Japan. That was very interesting because my family owns a restaurant in town and one of our long-term customers actually led the Japan program. That’s how I got connected from there. I learned a lot through the program. But a lot of people [in Japan] have assumed that I was actually Japanese native. It was interesting to adopt into the language and try to understand what they were saying. My favorite study abroad experience probably is Greece. Although there was so much traveling involved. We would go to a lot of hotels. I really like the peaceful atmosphere and varieties of activities I got to experience during that study abroad. There were a lot of historical sites. It was cool to see a lot of unique architecture. When you study abroad in Europe, you also get a chance to travel to countries nearby. You can easily plan a weekend trip whether by train or plane. I am currently in the process of applying for my fourth study abroad trip to South Africa. It is a little different from my previous study abroad because it’s for internship credits. This is one of the popular health science internships. Get prepared for your study abroad in advance. Be culturally aware, you may not learn everything in advance. You might encounter things that you didn’t anticipate. So you need to learn how to roll with the punches.”

Edited by Alex Fulton | afulton@themaneater.com

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