This article is part of a series created for International Education Week 2020 by the Student Advocacy Committee of the International Student Ambassador Program. The program is an initiative of the Dashew Center for International Students and Scholars.
By Yuzhou Wang
I’m from the city called Changchun in the northeastern part of China. I came to Los Angeles in 2018, so I have been here for about two years. Last year, because everything was normal, I could go back home during the summer break, but this year it was difficult to get a flight, so I am still in LA and have been busy, busy every day since the quarter started.
I’m a second-year master’s student in the East Asian Studies program. Basically, I’m studying the culture and history of China, Japan and Korea. I’m planning to apply for a Ph.D. program this year to continue studying and, hopefully, work in academia.
I miss home, but I feel like it’s always better to prioritize studying than the part about missing home, because I can always find time to go back. I miss my family the most and also the food. Because every place and country has their own festivals, what I miss are the Chinese festivals and the atmosphere when people get together. Last month, Chinese people celebrated the mid-autumn festival. I got to eat a mooncake and I was happy! Yes, you can get mooncakes in LA, since all kinds of Chinese stores are here.
Even before my arrival in LA, when I got an email from my department, and also when I first came here, I felt very welcomed by UCLA. I used to live in a city where there were only Asian people, so in terms of my first impression of LA, it was the first time I felt the diversity of people in the city. It was very exciting for me at the beginning, and even now I still feel inspired by this kind of diversity in the city.
To be honest, at UCLA I feel like I’m supported to do what I’m interested in. The curriculum and all the faculty members really want to help students. Before coming to UCLA, I went to the University of Tsukuba in Tsukuba, Japan for my bachelor’s degree. In China or Japan, it’s more of a learning-teaching experience. In Japan, I felt more like a student. But here I can be part of the research.
UCLA provides resources for me to do what I want to do. For each of my seminar classes, we are expected to do some sort of research at the end. Most likely it would be my own project. I’m interested in Chinese culture, especially from the perspective of film and music analysis. Some important keywords in my research are nationalism, feminism and gender.
One time when I was doing research about the Chinese patriotic revolutionary music genre, I conducted fieldwork in China and interviewed people. I went to live with the performers in an artistic troupe for about a week to collect data. But after Covid-19, things are changing for most part.
Personally, as I said, I feel like I can always get support and the resources to do things related to my research at UCLA. But in the beginning, because I came from a different cultural background, and the curriculum for my B.A. was different from here, it took me some time to get used to the curriculum and the relationship between faculty members and students here. But everything started to go well as time went by.
My advice for international students is don’t be afraid to reach out because the faculty members at UCLA are always here to support us. So if you need anything, just don’t be afraid to reach out.