Miles in distance, miles in difference

Chinese students stand outside of their new home for the semester, West Hall.
Chinese students stand outside of their new home for the semester, West Hall.

Ted wants to get a car. Polly and her friends went bowling last weekend.  Cindy sang at Live at the Lounge.  To most people, these 21 year-olds sound like typical, St. Ambrose students, but there is a big difference. Ted wants to get a car so he can pass his driver’s test.  This was the first time ever that Polly and her friends went bowling.  And Cindy sang a Chinese song at Live at the Lounge.  Ted, Cindy and Polly are international students from China studying at SAU this year.

Participating in a new program at SAU, Ted, Cindy, Polly, Heybe and Michelle study at a university in Guangzhou, China and will be at Ambrose for two years.  They came along with their teacher, Liang Tao.  As seniors, they will finish their undergraduate degrees this year and then begin an intensive, one-year program to earn their master’s degrees in their second year.  From finance to accounting, each of the students is studying business.

Not only are they earning their master’s degrees in just one year, but also they are adapting to a different learning experience at the same time.

“The teaching style in America is different,” Cindy said.  “At home classes have almost 100 or more students with one teacher.  We can’t communicate as well with the teacher.”

The smaller learning community is one aspect of Ambrose that the students like.

“I have a lot of questions so it’s good,” Cindy said, laughing.

Even though these students are in a demanding program, they still make time to have fun and take advantage of living in America.  From going bowling for the first time to learning how to play Euchre, the students already involve themselves in a variety of activities in the short time that they have been here.  They have also explored around campus quite a bit.

“I like the church here,” Cindy said.  “It is my first time visiting a church.”

They would also like to know more about SAU.  Heybe and the other students heard that there were ghost stories about Ambrose Hall and want to hear some of the spooky tales.  They also enjoy spending time around campus.

“The landscape is very elegant, like a painting,” Cindy said.

Through this SAU program, each of the Chinese students lives with three American students.  This helps them learn more of the English language while living the typical American college life.  St. Ambrose faculty members, Xiaowei Liu and Jie Peng, are fluent in Chinese and have also spent time with the students.

These 21-year-olds also hope to travel while studying here.  Ted and Cindy have already booked a flight to Alaska for Thanksgiving break.  But that is only the beginning.

“Of course we want to travel all around America,” Ted said.  “Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington D.C., New York—all the famous cities.”

And aside from traveling around the country, the students even want to travel more around the Quad Cities—hopefully with their own car.  Ted and Cindy want to get their driver’s licenses.

“We passed the computer test, but we are required to have a car to pass the driver’s test,” Ted said.

Although the students have started to tackle driving in the United States, food is a different story.  They think food here is too sweet and has too much oil, compared to food at home.

“We went to a Chinese restaurant here,” Ted said.  “It’s okay but more like American style.”

On weekends, Ted, Cindy, Polly, Heybe and Michelle like to cook their favorite foods from back home.  They described one of the meals as, potato-fried meat and pig’s feet.

Clothing is another difference here.  Mostly American and Chinese style is similar, but they definitely notice differences on campus.  Seeing guys wearing sandals with socks is new for them.  Besides style, price is the big difference.  The students and their professor have enjoyed shopping at NorthPark Mall in Davenport.

“The price is cheap,” Ted said.  “It is twice the price in China.”

They try to take advantage of the sales while here.

“It will be difficult to take all these things back to China,” Liang Tao said.

While life here is busy, Cindy and the others try to stay in touch with friends back home.

“They want to come visit and also are interested in hearing our stories,” Cindy said.

The SAU students plan to return home to China in the summer for their university’s graduation ceremony and will then return to complete their master’s degrees.  Until then, they will continue to study and see as much of the United States as they can.

SAU hopes to expand the program in the years to follow.  For any questions related to international studies, please contact Jennifer Tuite and the International Student Services Office at Ambrose.


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