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DCE Magazine

Alumni Spotlight: Finding Her Way in the U.S.A.

Fall 2019

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.” Yixuan Wang

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 country.

Yixuan WangSo 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?

Yixuan WangYes, 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?

Yixuan WangWhen 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.