Chinese classmates adjust to American life

While students at Sichuan Modern Art School, in Chengdu, China, Xueyun “Anna” Feng and Junlin “Scott” Wang had thoughts of leaving their home country for college — they just weren’t sure where they would end up.

That changed when Brenau University leaders, including Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Jim Eck and then-President Ed Schrader, visited their school in December 2017.

Feng, now a junior at Brenau studying music and fashion design, had initially planned to study in Moscow, Russia, where she spent several years during her childhood. However, her plans shifted after receiving a scholarship from Brenau.

“I talked to my parents about it, and they said that America is a pretty developed country and has a lot of sources for me to learn different things,” Feng says. “After thinking about it, I said, ‘Yeah, let me go there and see what it’s like.’”

Feng says her international travel experience, which includes visits to nearly 30 countries, also gave her confidence in being able to adjust to American college life.

“When I walk down the street, people say hello to me. That’s very kind. I wasn’t used to it. I was wondering why they
were talking to me.”

Junlin “Scott” Wang
Brenau junior music major
from Chengdu, China

While the move to Brenau was a big leap for Wang, he says he felt more comfortable knowing that Feng would be attending the same university.

Like Feng, Wang is also majoring in music, a field the sophomore is very passionate about.

“I love to sing, and I love the motion of the music,” he says. “I love to study the different languages in classical music.”

Having been in Georgia for a couple of years, Wang has grown accustomed to the friendliness of people around him — which he says was one of the biggest surprises after his arrival here.

“When I walk down the street, people say hello to me,” he says. “That’s very kind. I wasn’t used to it. I was wondering why they were talking to me.”

Some of Wang’s closest friends at Brenau are students in the Anhui Normal University partnership. While he and Feng are not part of the program, he says the Anhui students understand their upbringing and how the U.S. and China differ. Feng says the ANU students are a nice reminder of home.

Looking ahead, Wang says he would like to stay in the U.S. and further his education by going to graduate school. Feng’s plans on where she will end up are a bit more uncertain, but she knows it will be in fashion.

“I just love it,” says Feng, who hopes to one day have her own clothing line. “I love colors, patterns, the way people dress. I know if I have great skills, I can go to New York, Los Angeles or somewhere in Europe. I can work for companies for a few years and build my foundation and connections with people.”

Family life is important for both Wang and Feng. Although they can still talk to family and friends back home, it’s not the same as being around them in person. Thankfully, they’ve discovered a supportive community of friends and professors at Brenau, which Wang says has made him feel less homesick.

“I love the Brenau community,” he says.

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