#StudyAbroadBecause I Welcome Challenge

Lin Yuhan's picture

Joseph Zhang has a PhD in Power and Control Engineering. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in April 2015. He is originally from Shanghai, China and has been in the U.S. for 4 years. He is currently working in Pittsburgh. In his leisure time, he enjoys biking and exploring nature. 

#StudyAbroadBecause I Welcome Challenge - Joseph Zhang
What motivated your decision to come to the U.S.?

My parents, my friends, and my travelling experience to the U.S. at the beginning of my undergrad inspired my decision to pursue an education here. Besides, it has become more popular amongst Chinese younger generation to study abroad; my parents also encouraged me to have this experience they have never had before.


What has your experience been like so far?

In general, it's a transformation that it shapes my mentality and attitude about life. Most of my time here is affiliated to research work in grad school and lots of papers, projects. Beyond the workload, I may relax myself. Long story short, the experience here can be painful but memorable.


What do you like most about studying in the U.S.?

There are more opportunities here in the U.S. I have had the opportunities and experience I could otherwise not have if I chose to stay in Shanghai, or studied abroad in Europe or Japan. 


What are some challenges you have faced while studying here?

Culture barriers, for sure. Star War, Indiana Jones, and popular music. These common topics that Americans talk about on a daily basis seem unfamiliar to me. Also individualism is more dominant here; therefore, making friends here can be somewhat different compared to hanging out with my friends from my hometown. 


What skills have you developed so far from your experience? 

Sincere and willing to help others; pretending/being extroverted; finding solutions or exploring unknown based on known, sense of humor (although feedback on this part is not optimistic so far).


How has international education impacted or influenced your cultural identity?

I believe China will become stronger and stronger as more and more Chinese have more experience to receive multinational education and for that, we could more easily to think outside the box. However, I didn't go through an identity crisis yet, yet I went though couple shuffles of viewing western life and China. And this is what I've found: that sometimes U.S is not as perfect as I presume it to be; rather, it is a country with incredible culture, diverse enough to make it fresh. It's like a ratatouille in the urinal and the good/bad smell propagates at the same rate. Whatever you absorb depends on yourself. 


Why do you think international education is important? 

I had never thought international education was important before I came to the U.S. For people from developing countries, going to developed countries and settling down there is one way to have a better life. And that's why lots of international students have chosen to stay in the U.S. after their education. The bright side is, as a person who's able to speak multiple languages, their brain's active region is more powerful and they are smarter in general. One example is Japan - you rarely see Japanese students in the U.S. or Canada nowadays compared to decade(s) ago, while their industrial, technological, literature, and other cultural development are never behind other countries.  As the platform has become multi-polarized, the impact of international influence can also be experienced domestically, while the importance of capability of multi-language speaking shall never be obsolete. 



Lin Yuhan is the Culture and Politics Editor for Wandering Educators


Photo courtesy and copyright Joseph Zhang