Anne Chen was born in Taiwan and moved to Shanghai at the age of 3. She is a sophomore at Wake Forest University, and she intends to double major in Health & Exercise Science and Psychology with a minor in Statistics.
Her Campus: What is it like being an international student at Wake Forest? Were you shocked by the differences in culture?
Anne Chen: At first there was definitely a lot of shock coming to a completely new environment and interacting with people I have never connected with before. For the same reason, I felt a little bit unwelcome and shunned out in social situations. I realized a lot of students at Wake never had any experience with international students before, so they don’t really know how to approach me. In addition to that, Taiwan is not a very well known place, so most people have no idea what my home country and culture is like. This makes it extra difficult to engage with people because I wouldn’t even know how to introduce myself. Nevertheless, there are still a lot of students at Wake who are genuinely curious about my background and has helped me overcome the initial “shock” making Wake feel more like home.
HC: Did you find it difficult to assimilate into the American culture? How was it for you?
AC: I didn’t find it difficult to assimilate into the American culture per se, but it was a bit difficult to assimilate into Wake’s culture. Unlike most international students, I attended a K-12 international school that followed the American curriculum, so I am pretty familiar with the American culture and what people our age usually talk about. However, it still took some time to get used to a completely English environment. I think it was also a bit difficult because I wasn’t that familiar with the South. I was more accustomed to the northeastern states or the west because that was where the majority of my teachers came from back at my high school.
HC: Why did you want to continue your education in America? What drew you here?
AC: Since I went to a high school that followed the American curriculum, the natural path was for me to continue my education in the states. Wake Forest, however, is a very niche school for international students. What initially introduced me to Wake Forest was the movie adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ novel The Longest Ride. The beautiful scenes of the campus and the romantic storyline kind of drew me here, but after visiting the campus in person, I was sure that this is where I wanted to be for the next few years of my life.
HC: What is the oddest thing you have experienced about America?
AC: I think the oddest thing I have experienced about America is pumping our own gas at gas stations. In my country, and in most countries I have visited, people are not allowed to pump their own gas for safety reasons. Usually, there would be multiple attendants waiting next to the pump to help you (like in New Jersey). I also found other things like small talk and tipping kind of odd at first.
HC: What do you miss the most from your country?
AC: The food and transportation! I miss convenience stores with a variety of options from breakfast to dinner and also midday snacks, often having very healthy options too. I miss being able to walk out of my house and hop onto a subway that’s only 10 minutes away and can take me to wherever I want in the city. The United States is still a very automobile-centered country; therefore, I miss the amount of freedom I had and the convenience of public transportations.
HC: If you could bring one thing from your country and bring it to Wake Forest/America what would it be and why?
AC: Actual authentic bubble tea (or boba)… and I’m sure all Asians would agree with me on this!!*
*Author agrees with this