Shiyuan He '15
Tell us a little about your international journey.
I am originally from China. I attended high school attached to Yunnan Normal University in Kunming, Yunnan, China. During junior year, I spent 10 months as an exchange student in Ohio.
What made you want to attend college in the U.S.? What, if any, concerns/challenges/opportunities did this present?
Experiencing and learning about diverse cultures is always my dream and goal. I decided to pursue my education in the U.S because it is very different.
And yes, there are many challenges when studying here because everything is new. Language is definitely the bar that blocks the way (especially the first month). Adopting the new lifestyle is also a challenging but fun experience for me. Opportunities are amazingly abundant here; for example, I just went to a resume workshop and a study abroad fair today, and both of them were extremely helpful.
How did you learn about Sarah Lawrence College?
Mostly from Web site. The opinions of current students also helped.
What made you choose to attend SLC?
The unique seminar-conference system, the small size, the strong programs in creative writing, literature, visual arts, and psychology, and the location.
What is your areas of concentration?
Creative writing and literature. And possibly visual arts and psychology.
What was your first-year transition to life at SLC like?
Exciting, busy, and interesting. I am very happy to meet new people and make awesome friends. The seminars and conferences are amazing and demanding; campus is beautiful and nice; the city is seriously attractive. I do feel some homesickness and miss my family and friends back home, but on the other hand, I love here very much, too.
How would you describe your experience at SLC so far?
Excellent. I definitely love it. It's a period of discovering: I've started to look at myself and ask "what do I want", "what's my goal", and "what should I do next." I am no longer studying for tests, grades, or entrance to the next level of education, but instead I am reading and writing and thinking for my interest.
What is the community like at SLC?
It's a neat and welcoming community. International students are diverse, and many of them have amazing past experiences, and the best thing is that they are willing to share these experiences. Same friendliness applies to domestic students, too. It's really easy to make friends and get involved.
Faculty members are extremely nice here. I call my professors by their first names; I can talk to them in person and our conversations are not limited to academics—we also talk about life, dreams, and other things.
I've only been here for two months, but I have already felt we are a big family, warm and close.
How about the local community—have you spent a lot of time in the surrounding area? How about New York City?
Bronxville is a nice place to live. I usually run to the park in Bronxville in the morning. And the scenery is simply beautiful—colorful leaves and thick trees, wild ducks, black squirrels, and birds. The shops and restaurants are very convenient. Pretty much everything I need is in walking distance.
New York City is another fantastic story. The train only takes a little more than 30 minutes to go to Grand Central Terminal, Times Square, Broadway, 5th Avenue, Central Park, and all these places that usually appear in movies, TV, and papers. It is amazing to go to these places and feel as if I am the heroine in real life movies.
Besides that, there are many museums, art galleries and other things to see. I am very into visual art, so it is like heaven to me. Since New York City is such a cosmopolitan city, I can always find things from home. I went to Chinatown twice and the food there tastes just like home—a great help for homesickness.
SLC values international students because they bring to campus the richness and excitement of a global perspective. Can you give us some examples of how your perspective has made a difference in classroom discussions, etc.?
I had a seminar in literature class for Milton's Paradise Lost, which I had read both in Chinese and in English. So during the seminar I was able to share my thoughts on the differences of the two versions, discuss the effect of translation, and compare the language usages and style. It is my first time to look into one work of literature in two languages. And it is amazing to find how much I benefit from this comparison.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I will be a writer in 10 years. This is also the dream that I am pursuing at SLC.
What advice do you have for international students considering SLC?
If you do not speak English at home, practice it as often as you can. Reading and writing skills are extremely important here. I am a little bit regretful that I didn't practice that much before I came here.