On one of his first nights in China, Zhu Yao was overwhelmed by the crowds of people gathered around him in a dormitory.
His excitement over his new trip to WSU’s study abroad program quickly faded as the city’s chaotic traffic slowed and he had to leave his dormitory to get on a bus to a nearby campus.
“I was so excited I didn’t even notice the buses were closing,” he says.
“There were only a few cars around, and I thought it was too crowded.
But after getting off the bus, it was like I was part of the community.
I was surrounded by people I hadn’t seen in years.”
Zhu Yao spent five days in WSU studying abroad, including two in the Chinese city of Guangzhou, and found the experience to be extremely relaxing.
“When I was there, I could sit and eat Chinese food without being hungry, which was really nice,” he remembers.
“The professors were so nice, they gave me gifts, and they gave lots of compliments.”
The professors Zhu Yao met were also supportive, giving him free tickets to visit their families for the holidays and other events, as well as giving him a chance to meet fellow students and fellow faculty.
But while his experiences were a huge boost for him and his academic career, he says he is unsure if the university will see the same success with his Chinese studies.
“Maybe they won’t do that study abroad so many more people will come, and more people are coming to study abroad,” he said.
Zhu Yao says that the university has already seen an increase in the number of students coming to WSO, with many returning after the program began.
But he says the increase is not necessarily because students are more excited about studying abroad than they were at first.
Zhu says the majority of students who came to Wsu this year were interested in Chinese culture and philosophy, and not in studying foreign languages.
“It’s very rare for WSU to do that with a large number of Chinese students,” Zhu says.
Zhu and his colleagues hope that in the future the program will see more students from China come to the university.
“Chinese studies will definitely become more popular with more people,” Zhu said.
“At least now, the university is not closed for Chinese students.
I think the university may open up again for more Chinese students, but I don’t know yet.”