Yilei Xiao: From China to California

Yilei Xiao is an international, exchange student from Zhejiang in China. She is studying Interior Design at Sacramento State. Back home, at Nanjing Tech University she studies Landscape Design. 


Where in China are you from?

East of China… It’s called Zhejiang.

What do you miss most about China? 

My parents and my grandma. The hours are different by 15 hours. It’s kind of like they are in my tomorrow. I’m still in their yesterday. It’s more than half a day a part.

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Why did you decide to come to America for exchange?

Because I want to see different cultures and to learn English. As a transfer student, we only have transfer programs to America. There are over 50 universities I could choose in America. If I fly from China to America, California it’s the closest to my home. I also really like the weather here.

Can I talk about the weather in California. For the past 4 months, it has only rained once.

Why do you think it’s important to learn English?

I think it’s interesting to communicate with different people from different countries.

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Have you had culture shock here?

Nearly everything is different. For example, in class it’s so strange that people can leave before class is over. Back in China, teachers think it’s impolite to leave before class is done. Here, no one cares about what you do. And obviously the food here is really different.

Oh and people here have high enthusiasm to participate in parties and in sports. Everyone likes to assemble. Also, when I’m walking in the streets here I can say hi to anyone even if we don’t even know each other

What new experience do you want to have while you’re here in America?

I experienced my first sports game here in America. Back home we all know that Americans like sports and people are all really enthusiastic about sports. I just go to the games here and have different experiences because of how passionate these sports fans are.

How can you compare American students to Chinese students?

I never talk much with American students, so I don’t know much about them. During the classes that I have taken, I see nearly most of the students paying attention in lecture. Students in China are always writing their notes by hand. There is an old proverb that says ‘writing can help you memorize things.’ Here everyone writes their notes on their laptops.

There is always a misunderstanding with a lot of Chinese students. There are a lot of students who have a lot of wealth and their families will send them abroad to study and a lot of these students don’t like school. I don’t hang out with these students. I feel like their parents did not give them a proper education. But some of these students are very hard working because studying abroad is an opportunity to cherish. Money sometimes does not equal a good education.

Do you feel scared being an international student in America? 

I rarely go off campus, but when I’m on campus I feel very safe. There are so many people in China. Here sometimes when you walk on the street there are only cars passing by. This kind of situation scares me. I read the news everyday and there is so much bad news here in America of deaths and hate crimes always happening.

I don’t think about my race when I think of safety. I think  you should try your best to obey all the rules in the country you are staying in. Don’t do something that others would get mad at you for.

Are you ever going to come back to America once your exchange is done?

I’m not sure. Maybe for travelling. I want to go back to China. I miss everything about China. I grew up there. I miss my parents; my family. America is so far away from there.

What are your thoughts on the Yulin Dog Meat Festival?

We really hate it. We have a micro blog and we’ll expose the people who hurt animals. When people from different cultures mention that we all eat dogs, we feel a lot of shame about that.

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I Stopped Thinking About You

I thought about you everyday.

You were the first thought I had when I woke up in the morning. You were the last thought I had before I went to sleep.

Wherever I went, you were on my mind. I would walk through a store and imagine outfits I might wear when we are together. I would plan what club, restaurant, or bar I went to in hopes that I would run into you there.

I would imagine scenarios of us in my head. You in bed with me. You at this party. You having dinner with my family. None of these scenarios ever played out.

When you would message me, I would get butterflies. When we would hang out, I lived in the moment with you. And when you would leave, I would think about the next time we would be together.

I thought about you everyday. Until one day, I didn’t.

I was out living my life. Out, thinking about me. Then, I felt as if I was missing something. I felt so whole. I felt so clear-headed.

Then it hit me, I stopped thinking about you. I wasn’t missing you anymore. You were no longer part of my everyday thoughts and routines.

I felt a little uneasy about this new feeling. This new life, which you were not apart of.

And then, I started thinking about you again. But this time, it was because I knew it would be the last.