University of Cincinnati senior Yuzhen Zhou from China experienced a culture shock her freshmen year. After adapting to the American way of life, she discovered a diversity of cultures, which broadened her perspective.
Zhou had her eyes set to study in an old, industrialized city, in the heartland of America. With that target in mind, she applied to the University of Cincinnati.
As a finance student in Carl H. Lindner College of Business, Zhou has the opportunity to co-op and to work in American companies. Zhou thinks it gives value to the program and without co-op, she would not have realized her passion for finance.
Zhou, a Kolodzik Business Scholar and UC Global Scholar, has applied to the PhD program at UC because she loves school and Cincinnati, even though she admits it was hard to adapt to the American culture at first.
“First year was tough,” Zhou says. “I was so afraid to talk. I was afraid to do a mistake and that people would make fun of me. I would say that a cultural shock was definitely there.”
The social aspect was the hardest, she says. She did not know how to act among her American friends or “how to fit in to the crowd.” When she noticed that people would not make fun of her, she became more comfortable with the English language. She realized that people tolerate differences and are very accepting of different cultures.
In the U.S. Zhou thinks people are more open to conversations, and people are more willing to help. In many Asian countries, she says, the culture is much more reserved and people are not supposed to talk whenever they want.
“Sometimes when I go home, I have that problem where I start to talk and my mom would nod and wink at me and tell me that I’m not supposed to say that,” she says. “Part of being here has changed me I guess.”
Zhou is happy with her experience at UC, and she encourages incoming students to reach out of one’s comfort zone and not be afraid.
“I stuck to my own culture and people from China at first, so I wouldn’t get judged. After a while, I started to reach out to people from different cultures. Everyone has been very welcoming,” Zhou says.
In high school, Zhou went to class from early morning to late at night, so she did not have time to get involved with any organizations, which she is able to do at UC. She currently serves as the Secretary of the International Business club. She is also involved with two organizations off campus – the Cincinnati Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Habitat for Humanity.