We sat down with Alex Jiang (Lixing), a senior from Wichita Collegiate School and one of our Cambridge Network international students, for an interview as they prepare for college and finish the final year of their high school study abroad experience. Alex is in his fourth year at Wichita Collegiate School but, due to COVID-19, has returned to China to finish his senior virtually. Recently, Alex was accepted to the prestigious University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.
Please tell us a little about yourself?
Alex: I am from Guangzhou, China. I like math, physics, and Chinese food (of course).
How do you balance your activities outside of school and with your school life? What extracurricular activities do you do?
Alex: Before Covid, I did scholars bowl and robotics. Both of them are quite time-consuming, so I only did both in my sophomore year. Other than that, I participate in math competitions (Alex won the regional math competition for Algebra at Emporia State University during sophomore year) and sometimes go to the politics and economics club. I think the most important factor in finding a balance between academics and extracurricular activities is the physical distance because the meeting places and events can be VERY far away from each other in the US, so there’s a lot of traveling involved.
What are your personal and academic goals?
Alex: They are the same for me– picking my favorite major for college.
How has your study abroad experience through Cambridge Network allowed you to further your academic and personal goals?
Alex: Studying abroad has helped me open opportunities for higher education; since I can apply to many universities in the US, I can essentially pick the ones I want rather than letting them choose me.
What has been the best part about living in the US, and how was your transition to living abroad?
Alex: The best part for me was probably better air quality and a lot of open space. The transition was challenging because of the food, and it certainly takes some time to adapt.
How has your Cambridge Network SDM helped you throughout your international exchange experience?
Alex: Cambridge helped organize a few events that bring the local Chinese students together (because we live far away from each other). It was good to be able to have gatherings like this and have a community of other international students.
How has your Cambridge Network host family helped you throughout your international exchange experience?
Alex: My host family has been very helpful in many ways. They are really nice people and loved to try Chinese food as well (though they weren’t quite used to the spiciness).
What has been your biggest challenge during your international exchange student experience? How did you overcome it?
Alex: The cultural difference was the largest issue for me. Even if I wanted to talk to others, I often don’t know what to talk about – in terms of what was popular since I don’t know the TV shows they watch. I can’t say that I completely solved the problem, but I would suggest taking it slow and give yourself time to adapt.
What advice would you give other younger students interested in studying abroad?
Alex: Try to participate in more extra-curriculum activities and play an active role in them. The latter is more important because you can learn a lot from it.
What do you plan on studying in college and why? (if applicable, why did you pick the college you were accepted to?)
Alex: I plan to study engineering at Cambridge. I really liked math and physics, and through the robotics club, I figured out that I prefer practical stuff to theories. Therefore, the answer is engineering.
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