Yani Zeng '12G, a Master's student in the Chinese department tells us about the differences between UMass and her undergraduate university in China and her goals for the future.
Where are you from?
I come from the Sichuan Province of China, specifically the city of Chengdu. I went to Sichuan Normal University for college.
Why did you decide to come to UMass?
I wanted to pursue my Master’s degree in the U.S. and I knew that UMass’s location was ideal since it is near both New York and Boston. Also, UMass is very famous for its Linguistics and Chinese departments. The Chinese department is actually the biggest program in the New England area. While I was an undergraduate student, my major was TCSL (Teaching Chinese as a Second Language) so my teacher always recommended that we study abroad, especially to the U.S.
What are some of the differences between Sichuan Normal University and UMass?
The biggest difference is that there are a lot of international students here so I come into contact with many people from different countries with different cultures. I also like that there are a lot of different activities and events I can attend here. The gym here is also very good and I go very often. I think the school (administration) here is very nice because when the weather is severe, they’ll send me an email, warning us. We didn’t have that kind of thing in my college. The weather is also very different. Here, it’s very dry and very cold so at first, I couldn’t get used to it.
What are you currently studying?
My major is Chinese but I focus on TCSL, Teaching Chinese to foreigners as a Second Language. I’m taking Chinese 580 which teaches us to how to teach Chinese to foreigners. I'm currently TAing Chinese 246 and I think that being a TA is really helpful for my future career. I also take other classes such as Chinese linguistics and Translation which help to improve my English. In Translation, we translate Chinese essays into English.
How long have you been studying English?
Many years actually. I still need to improve my speaking. I think I am better at reading and writing but when I was in China, I didn’t have many opportunities to practice my speaking. There were many Korean students who came to my university to study Chinese so I had some experiences teaching them but there were not as many people who came from America.
What do you want to do as a future career?
To be a TCSL teacher. If I stay here (in the U.S.), that’s what I’d like to do but if I go back to China, I'd like to be a lecturer or professor at a university.
What was most surprising to you about UMass?
I love the people here. I think the people here are really friendly and always helpful. Whenever I have some difficulties, I can always find someone to help me. I also think it’s very interesting to come into contact with people from different countries and different cultures. After learning about different cultures through textbooks and tv, it’s very different to actually communicate with people of different cultures in person.