What It's Like to Be an International Student at SUU

Posted: August 01, 2023 | Author: Abbie Cochrane | Read Time: 3 minutes

international studentSouthern Utah University prides itself not only on sending students on many different study-abroad excursions but in welcoming students from all over the world. Portia Qiao, a transfer student from China, offered her thoughts about her experience studying at SUU and living in Cedar City. 

“It’s been a great adventure,” said Qiao.

A senior majoring in strategic communication, Qiao has found a new love for American culture alongside her own. 

“The first thing that shocked me is Americans' friendliness,” she said. “Since then, I have noticed many differences between my culture and U.S. culture; the dining habits, transportation, and housing are all different. Even clothing aesthetics are different!” 

Qiao had no problem merging into the social scene at SUU and attended every campus event hosted by the university. Since then, she’s made friends from Utah and beyond.

“I love my culture, and I have come to appreciate the diversity of this amazing world,” said Qiao. “I believe that's the essence of cultural communication and cooperation.”

Although Qiao admits that living in a foreign country can be lonely sometimes, she is grateful for the friends she has made. 

“Every person I have met here makes my days colorful,” said Qiao. “It’s made me realize friendship is not deemed by nationality. Through eliminating stereotypes about people, we discover the truly kind hearts of those around us.”

In the early days of her studying at SUU, Qiao had a rocky experience adjusting to her academic expectations. Ultimately, she found support in campus resources like the library and the Writing Center. 

“To be honest, I didn't take my classes seriously at first because most of them were fun and easy,” said Qiao. “I spent a lot of time hanging out with new friends rather than improving my assignments. My student advisor really helped me understand my situation, and I remembered the reason why I am here—to further my studies. Due to my language barrier, I had to spend more time and effort than American students to reach their level, which was really stressful and tiring. But finally, my hard work paid off. My GPA improved, and my name was on the Spring 2023 Dean's List. That was so exciting!”

In stepping up and fulfilling her academic potential, Qiao has begun to accomplish her goals and discover what she wants from life one step at a time. 

“Studying at SUU has been a fresh new journey in my life,” said Qiao. “Although I sometimes feel lost and don't know where my future lies, I know that with every choice I make, I am figuring out who I am.”

That first step happened to be an internship opportunity through the SUU Career Center as a social media strategist in the Marketing Communication Office. Alongside student coworkers and mentors with like-minded interests, Qiao has been able to collaborate and realize her strengths, areas that need improvement, and aspirations for the future. 

“This internship experience has truly clarified my abilities and my ideal career path,” said Qiao. “Moreover, the Career Center has played a crucial role in enhancing my professional skills and helping me develop a plan for my future career. I am genuinely grateful for everyone's support, as they have guided me to find my own path.”

Overall, Qiao agrees that her journey as an international student at SUU has been an unforgettable adventure. 

“I strongly encourage all T-Birds to embrace the opportunity to study abroad whether through a short or long-term study program. It will greatly benefit various aspects of your life!”

Learn more about study abroad programs through the SUU Office of Learning Abroad. For more information about internship opportunities, picking a major, and ways to plan for a future career, visit the Career Center.

Tags: College of Humanities and Social Sciences Communication CurStu International Affairs

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