International Perspective: A Chinese student’s thoughts on social life at Ursinus

Zixiao Lin

The first day I lived in my dormitory, I realized that I came to a totally unfamiliar country. I needed to use English, which was not my mother tongue, to study and to make friends here. In fact, I prefer not to talk with strangers. So there still are many people who don’t know me even after living around me since August. Sometimes, I envy those people who can say “Hello” to everyone, but I prefer to stay alone.

Being alone. This is an unusual condition in America. I tried to observe the Ursinus students for a few days, and I found out that most of the local students prefer to be with someone else. They eat together, learn together, and hang out together. Although there are a few students who prefer to be alone, they are hard to find. In contrast, I like to read alone, listen to music alone, and take photographs alone. I tend to eat or travel alone instead of shopping or hanging out with a bunch of people. Most people who live around me wonder why I feel good staying alone. One of my friends asked me once why I always stayed alone. I answered her, it is not because I don’t want to be with friends, I just feel that I need more time to stay by myself than other people.

In my opinion, being alone is not a negative condition, although my parents and friends hold the contrary opinion. All I know is that they want me to expand my social circle, meet more people and make more friends in my life. Maybe they are right. Sometimes I do need someone to be with me who may make me feel that being alone is foolish. With friends, even talking about something boring like the weather or listening to a song or watching a movie can be fun.

I have a friend who always needs her friends to be with her and she totally changed my outlook in a short period. The first day I met her, two years ago, we spent all night chatting, which my parents couldn’t believe. We had a sumptuous breakfast before we fell asleep all day. After that night, we became best friends. She has taught me how to talk with strangers and changed the way I make new friends.  I let her know how to avoid unnecessary problems like arguing some minor point with someone who is not important. Although we often hold different viewpoints on some topics, our friendship does not break down.

Although I might prefer to be alone, I still look forward to making many new friends at Ursinus College.

Zixiao (Rita) Lin is from Shenzhen city in Guangdong province.  Shenzhen is a coastal city in the southeast of China. Rita is an international student in the Class of 2020 and although her major is still undecided, she is planning to choose psychology as her major.  Rita enjoys campus performances like concerts and dramas and tends to attend activities that are quiet and where people can focus on the show.

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