Studying abroad in Nebraska, I was given a chance to meet new friends and interact with people all over the world, which was a unique experience for me.
Although she was welcomed to campus upon her arrival, Zhang said she isolated herself at first because she was afraid to go beyond her comfort zone. So, she decided to seek advice from a coordinator at the First Year and Transition Experiences office, Dan Hutt. Hutt was instrumental in encouraging Zhang to get involved on campus, giving her various suggestions of clubs to join, volunteering activities with local organizations, and university jobs. One of Zhang’s favorite memories, in fact, came from one of his suggestions: volunteering in the annual Culture Shock event organized by University Housing’s Intercultural Aides to introduce the campus community to the diversity of international cultures present in the student body.
“What immediately stood out about Echo was her fearless willingness to immerse herself in an unfamiliar culture and reap the benefits of new opportunities previously unavailable to her,” said Hutt. “Whether through one-on-one coaching, workshops, or conversation groups, Echo required very little prompting to get involved; she only needed awareness of the lay of the land at UNL, and she took it from there. It didn’t surprise me in the slightest to see Echo very quickly leading other international students going through the same anxious and exciting challenges she experienced herself.”
As Zhang continued to explore the variety of involvement opportunities for her on campus, she realized a strong personal interest in multicultural backgrounds and cross-cultural communication after meeting people from around the world at UNL. During the summer of 2017, Zhang joined the International Welcome Team where she worked with students from various countries to help more than 500 incoming international students adapt to the American lifestyle and become familiar with campus resources. The same year, she participated in a two-week study abroad program over winter break to Panama where she and a team of UNL students presented their research about the American teakwood industry to potential local investors. The trip easily became another favorite memory as an opportunity to make new American friends who were eager to learn about her Chinese culture, in addition to exploring the Latin American culture.
“Being able to meet so many people from all over the world gave me the opportunity to understand the importance of cultural differences while communicating,” Zhang said. “From my past experiences, I became more passionate about learning global studies and improving my cross-cultural communication skills.”
As her time in Nebraska comes to an end for now, Zhang is intent on continuing to explore her multinational interests in the future. In January 2020, Zhang will begin a master’s degree in Canada that specializes in international business, a program that she chose based on her interest in studying cultural differences. She also plans to translate her cross-cultural communication skills into her long-term career goal of working in a multinational enterprise.
“I would definitely recommend ZUCC students [and others] to come to UNL,” said Zhang. “I feel very proud of being a Husker.”Meet more international Huskers