Student: Kayla Zhang | College: University of Wisconsin-Madison
Introduction: I am an undergraduate student at UW-Madison, majoring in Psychology with a certificate in Studio art. Why I chose this university in the first place is because I saw the Lake Mendota from a video call with one friend who was studying here. I was attracted to seeing my friend reading a philosophy book sitting on the shore of the lake. I like this kind of small city where everyone is relaxing. When I got here, I gradually realized how amazing the campus is and how many resources are being presented in front of me. I am still exploring my college life here and I enjoy every obstacle or difficulty I face. This is a process for me to find a lifestyle I love. Back to the time Vinnie helped me with my application to the college, I am always grateful to all he had told me and prepared for me. He gave me constructive suggestions and left me with space to make my own decision.
1.) Tell me about your experience at UW-Madison.
As for academic experiences, I started with studying psychology which was my original plan before going to college. At the same time, I took other courses that interested me, like Philosophy – The Meaning of Life, Classics – The Mediterranean History, Dance – Ballroom Dance, Theater – Intro to Acting. I got the chance to explore all my interests. When I took my first ceramics course during the second semester, I fell in love with it. Then I began to pursue the Studio Art certificate. Last semester, I even had my first exhibition. A lot of people like my work and want to buy them. Though I didn’t sell them, I really appreciate every comment from every person who was interested in my work.
Also, I continued learning Spanish since my sophomore year. During the winter vacation in 2018, I studied abroad in Costa Rica for one month and finished my second semester there. Now, I am taking my third semester of Spanish. I enjoyed a lot of my “Spanish” time in the university. I got to know a lot of interesting friends and even my boyfriend!
2.) What’s the international community like there?
There are a lot of international student organizations. As for Chinese ones, we have CUSA, CSSA, Madzine, Yuanshan Study Society, Xiyan Theater Club, and others, from 30 people to 200 people in size. We can choose whatever style or theme we like and make friends with similar minds.
3.) What is the best thing about studying there so far? What do you find unique about the university or surprising maybe…
There are a lot of cutting-edge psychological labs. I am working as a lab assistant in one social psychology lab called Harackiewicz’s Motivation Lab. I basically organize participants, pilot studies and contribute to the discussion of the research in lab meetings. Also, I just submitted a research proposal with the guidance of one graduate student in our lab to apply for Sophomore Fellowship Research. It is a research designed to study the effect of progress of reflection and peer advice on student confidence. No matter what the result will be, I will conduct this research with my mentor together in the summer. The research opportunity in my university is amazing and we can always find the lab we have so much interest in and get involved in it.
4.) What are some activities you’re involved with there? Briefly describe…
I am the publicity chair in an Asian culture student organization. This is a student organization dedicated to spreading East Asian culture. We hold different guest lectures, movie nights and museum tours related to East Asian culture. My main job is to schedule the timeline for each event we are holding and publicize each event on different social media and organize all other forms of publicity.
5.) What’s your favorite local food since you’ve been there?
Different kinds of cheese in Wisconsin are highly famous, but I am not a fan of cheese, though milk here is very addictive. My most frequently visited restaurant is Japanese Ramen. I cook in my apartment most of the time.
6.) What advice would you give to other Chinese students planning to attend university in America?
1. Get involved with both Chinese and American student organizations, which will offer you different views of people from different backgrounds. Then you can choose which one you prefer or do both. Don’t fix your mind on people’s words to limit your life. Always explore by yourself.
2. Don’t let your mind be too easily influenced by other people’s behaviors. Stick with what you have passion for and make reasonable adjustments based on advisors. It’s always helpful when you talk to academic advisors or go to your professor’s office hours when you have questions or just want to talk about your future. It’s more beneficial than you can imagine.
3. We all have those hard times which make us want to go home. We will get used to those times and gradually find good strategies to deal with them; therefore, when those times come, please don’t be panic. Talk to your friends or your parents. Don’t bear with it by yourself. We have to admit that it’s not easy to study abroad alone, but everything will be well worth it.