Jiangyue Sun and Chenqi Zhu, Master’s students who entered the program one year apart, came to Carolina Planning from the same undergraduate program at Wuhan University in China. However, the two didn’t meet until Chenqi joined Jiangyue in North Carolina this summer. Their undergraduate program was fairly large, with around 240 total students enrolled in the major every year, and the two just happened to have never crossed paths until moving to Chapel Hill.
Both were interested in studying at UNC for similar reasons – the landscape and quality of education. In China, if you are attended a prestigious university it is essentially guaranteed that you will be living in a massive, sprawling city. Jiangyue and Chenqi were attracted to the quality of education at UNC and the small town feel of Chapel Hill, which provided a very different atmosphere from anything they could experience back in China.
Both also had the same answer to what has surprised them the most about living in the US. According to them, the American attitude toward life is much more relaxed than anything you would see in China. In America, everyone has the freedom to choose what direction they want their life to go, so people take more risks when it comes to their personal and professional decisions. It’s been a change of pace, but Jiangyue and Chenqi seem to have pleasantly adapted to being able to focus on work and play.
Coming to North Carolina from China took some adjusting, and Jiangyue and Chenqi are extremely grateful for the support they’ve received from the university and department. The Chinese Student Association, which is funded through the university, helped them with the logistics of moving to America through finding housing and picking them up from the airport when they first arrived. The Student Association also hosts regular social events so they can meet Chinese students, both undergraduate and graduate. Yan Chen, a PhD candidate at Carolina Planning, also hosts social events for the Chinese students in the department, giving them a space to relax and socialize in their native language. As Jiangyue says, “sometimes it is tiring to talk and listen in English,” so she’s grateful for moments when she is able to take a break from it all and just rest!