From the Northeast to the Southwest

CAC’s Exchange Guests are Enjoying Their Change of Scenery.

Elsa%2C+Professor+Leng%2C+%26+Freya

Elsa, Professor Leng, & Freya

Kamille Ritchie, Cactus Staff Writer

Have you ever considered studying abroad? Imagine what it’s like to go to school on the other side of the world. Meeting new people can be a beautiful experience, or just plain awkward. I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with our exchange professor, Leng Xiaoping, and students, Freya and Elsa, to find out how CAC’s been treating them, and a little bit about themselves.

Hailing from Northeastern University in Shenyang, China, both Freya and Elsa are English majors, and Prof. Leng is a Professor of English to non-English speakers. Each have their reasons for coming here. Since NEU puts more emphasis on Engineering, Computer Sciences, and other technological subjects, and less on English and Art, the opportunities to study abroad for students majoring in English are slim. “It’s a good chance to go to America.” Freya says. “I cherish this experience.” Although Prof. Leng has been to South Korea, it’s the first time any of them has come to an English speaking country. “For me [Prof. Leng], I think it’s important that an English teacher goes to an English speaking country because it’s an experience to improve their oral English and language skills. What’s more, I want to learn the local culture.” At the same time, Prof. Leng wishes to educate the students of her country as well as its culture. “I want more people to learn about China, my mother land.” As an exchange professor, she is required to teach three classes: Conversational Chinese, Elementary Chinese, and a Cultural Chinese class. Don’t let these classes intimidate you, though; Prof. Leng is a great professor, and genuinely interested in your thoughts. Freya and Elsa are great girls as well; each is unique in her own way.

Elsa, whose actual name is Wang Zi, is a shy and quiet person; she adores playing the piano and ballroom dancing. Her favorite class this semester involves the piano. “I love art, music, things like that.” If you do have a chance to talk to her, don’t be brushed off if she doesn’t respond right away. “I seldom talk, but I like people here.” Freya, also known as Zhao Yuqi, is the more talkative of the pair, in the sense that she has more to say. She likes to spend her time working out and writing articles; back home at NEU, she is part of a Publications Club. Out of her classes this semester, she enjoys English 101 and Ceramics. “I’m not sure if I love that class because it’s too long… it’s funny to make my own things.” Not only have the girls been able to make bonds with others, but they have also developed a stronger bond with each other. In China, they shared a dorm with 4 other girls, so while they were friends, they did not know each other very well. Only having each other when they came here, they had to help each other adjust. “We’re getting closer than before. It’s good to have her here,” Freya says.

Transitioning on campus hasn’t seemed too bad for our visitors. “I didn’t have a lot of problems adjusting myself to the life here,” Prof. Leng assures. Experiences in her life, such as leaving home at age 19, and living more than six hours away from home, has allowed her to gain a certain independence. While she may get homesick from time to time, technology today has allowed her to have instant contact with her family. Colleagues such as Dolores Underwood and Sherrie Soria, along with several other mentors, have helped Prof. Leng and the girls adjust and venture outside their temporary comfort zone. Through these experiences, they’ve noticed several differences between our culture and their own. When taken to a high-school football game, Freya and Elsa were shocked by our enthusiasm for sports. “It is surprising for us to see so many people come out to watch a high-school game; we didn’t see this before. Only the national game has such an audience, and the people can be [so] crazy.”

Prof. Leng has also noticed the U.S. is a very broad-minded country in the sense that we’re very open with our feelings. “I can see that from the T.V. programs.” Nearing the end of our conversation, in an almost melancholic tone, she mentioned our skies. “Your sky is so blue; you have less pollution than where I am from… but it’s too hot here.” I think we can all agree, it is too hot.

So next time you’re out on campus, and you see one of our visitors, say hello; introduce yourself, let them know you’re here. Experiences are all around us… you never know what the next conversation will bring.