Alumni Spotlight: Finding Her Way in the U.S.A.
Yixuan Wang needed
to understand American
culture and work on her
English to successfully
pursue a degree in the
U.S., so she turned to
DCE for help.
Yixuan Wang was unsure about her future as the first one
in her family to pursue college education in a foreign
country. The Chinese student had come all the way from
her hometown of Zhengzhou, fresh out of high school and
hoping to make her way through college here in the U.S.
She was an outstanding student who wanted to study
psychology, maybe pursue a neuroscience major or
eventually go to graduate school.
“I'm so thankful to all the IUPP instructors who taught me
English as a Second Language. They really guided and helped
me get over my confusion. They also helped me open up to a
new culture and new environment.”
She was eager to get started on her new life. But there
was one big obstacle standing in her way. Yixuan — Kristen
in the English translation — needed to become more fluent
in English and find a way to adjust to American culture
before she could feel comfortable and excel in her new
So Yixuan reached out to her counselor and learned about
the International Undergraduate Preparation Program
(IUPP) offered at UCI Division of Continuing Education, an
in-depth program that provides comprehensive guidance
to help students succeed academically and prepare for
life in the U.S.
It certainly prepared Yixuan. After completing IUPP, she
was accepted to 11 universities and colleges.
“My previous college counselor recommended IUPP to
me as the most effective way to prepare for my future
college study, a great transition between high school and
college,” said the lively and engaging 19-year-old. “I used
to be so confused and insecure about my future. One year
ago, when I was working on my first college application, I
made a lot of blunders. That's when I realized that I wasn't
as well-prepared for college as I thought, so I decided
to choose IUPP to give myself an opportunity to better
prepare for college life in the U.S.”
Today, Yixuan is living with two roommates in Irvine
and planning her next step while indulging her love of
photography, books and loud rock music. She found time
during exams to field some questions about her journey
and what is yet to come.
Being accepted at 11 schools is quite an accomplishment.
Have you decided on which to attend?
Yes, I have! I had been paying most attention to the
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Mount Holyoke
College, Agnes Scott College and, of course, UC Irvine.
I've been more interested in a liberal arts college rather than large research institutions, so I recently made the
decision to attend Mount Holyoke this fall. It's a beautiful
women's liberal arts college. I chose it not only to
experience a great liberal arts education, which intrigues
me, but also to explore my potential and discover what
I'm most interested in. I see college education as not only
the pathway to a great career, but a unique opportunity
to explore the unknown, experience a different version
of life, and welcome all the possibilities of my future.
What made you gravitate to a liberal arts education?
During my last few months studying in the United States,
I became attracted by the country's unique liberal arts
programs. I feel there are fantastic interdisciplinary study
opportunities involving both arts and science.
Do you think liberal arts is good undergrad preparation
for your future?
Yes, I want to make psychology my major as well as a
major area for my future development. I've been recently
considering a second major which might be neuroscience,
but I haven't decided yet. I may attend graduate school
and continue my study in areas related to psychology. I'm
honestly still unsure about what I'm going to do regarding
my future career, but I believe I'll figure it out very soon.
So how did IUPP help you acclimate to American culture
and improve your mastery of English?
When I came here to study, I only spoke English at an
‘okay' level, but fitting into a different culture isn't just
about completing an English proficiency exam, it's also
about learning the way people speak and listen, being
aware of their facial expressions, and the conditions in
which certain languages can be used. I had a hard time
at first, since I wasn't very fluent and didn't express myself
well, so I sometimes acted very awkwardly. But I'm so
thankful to all the IUPP instructors who taught me English
as a Second Language. They really guided and helped
me get over my confusion. They also helped me open
up to a new culture and new environment.
Is there a class or teacher that stands out for you?
I'd have to say all my ESL teachers were very special.
They're so enthusiastic, friendly, and just amazing overall!
Words can't explain how nice and helpful they are. With
their guidance I started to know and understand how
people here live their lives. They helped me become
more open and inclusive about everything around me.
You mentioned you love books and rock music. Can you
name some of your favorites?
I'm a huge fan of rock and mostly listen to Queen, Nirvana,
David Bowie, The Kinks, Mando Diao, Green Day, Oasis,
Blur, Gorillaz, Glass Animals, The Beatles, Guns n Roses, to
name just some of the bands. And lately I've been reading
Blindness written by Jose Saramago — I prefer novels and
poetry more than biography and historical literature.
Learn more at ip.ce.uci.edu/iupp