Nothing prepares you for the culture shock of living and studying in a new country. At the same time, the amount you learn in just a few weeks in a new place is the most powerful educational experience of your life. Kaiyu and Yue are two new freshwomen from China studying at UC Berkeley, rapidly consuming US culture while exploring new subjects. We spoke to them about how to stay in touch with home, the wonders of the Five Stars program, and the superpowers that set them apart from their American peers.
What’s the one thing you wish someone told you about when you first came to the US?
Kaiyu: The Five Stars card! You use it at boba tea shops and you get rewards. And we use it a lot. [Laughs]
Yue: You don’t really know about that until you come here.
Kaiyu: You have to know some local people to know that.
What do you miss most about home?
Kaiyu: The food! [They both laugh]
Yue: The Thai food in China is more currys.
Kaiyu: I miss my cat, Saulua.
How do you stay in touch with home?
Kaiyu: Mostly through WeChat. Everyone we know is on there.
Yue: WeChat or Snapchat. Not so much Skype.
What’s something you love about the US that you don’t see at home?
Kaiyu: People smile at you. That’s really nice. And cars stop when you cross the road. [Laughs] That does NOT happen at home.
What’s the biggest difference between studying here and in China?
Kaiyu: Students talk in class a lot more.
Yue: Professors listen to you and want you to talk to them in class.
What are your superpowers?
Kaiyu: I don’t really have one. [Laughs]
Yue: She speaks FIVE languages.
Kaiyu: Cantonese, Mandarin, French, Japanese, English. But she can sing! [Laughs]
Yue: I’m in the UC Berkeley Women’s Chorale. And I’m working on a computer science degree.
Where do you see yourselves in five years?
Kaiyu: I’m not sure. I really want to be a fashion designer. If I could go anywhere in the world right now, I’d probably go to France to get that experience before I start my career.
Last question: If you had $1 million what would you do with it?
Yue: [Laughs] That’s not very much! I’d have to invest it and make it into more.