International student shares her journey to Texas

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Rongzhi Xu arrived from 7,000 miles across the ocean with her books in one hand, her sunglasses in the other and her new American name fresh in her mind.

The economics freshman came to the U.S. to find a better education in the field of business after stumbling upon the McCombs School of Business on the Internet. Xu said she is excited to be in the U.S. and doesn’t miss her home country of China.  

“It’s like an adventure,” Xu said. 

According to UT’s freshman admissions statistics from summer/fall 2015, only 2 percent of the University’s largest incoming class are international students. These few voyagers are ready to take on the challenge of changing the world. 

Xu admits to having made some changes to her lifestyle, but after coming from an international school, the transition has been positive and easier than expected. The biggest difference between her life in China and in the U.S. is her new name — something she said many Chinese international students do because their birth names are too difficult to pronounce for people in America. 

Now, she goes by the name Liz.

Another difference Xu noticed between university in China and the U.S. is the level of the students’ intensity. 

“In America, students work hard in university; in China, they play in university,” Xu said. 

As a mathematics and business enthusiast, Xu said she was looking for a university with high-quality education in these departments. 

“There was an award for the business school, and UT was high ranked,” she said.

Economics junior Damien Rodriguez, a volunteer at the Multicultural Engagement Center, said he believes the University attracts international students because it’s well renowned and diverse. 

Rodriguez is also a part of PALS, a campus organization that pairs English-speaking students with international students to help their transition. Despite the University’s best efforts, Rodriguez said he thinks the high tuition is to blame for the low numbers of international students at the University. 

He said he believes the University could put more effort into welcoming international students.

“UT is very big on organizations, but maybe they could work on leading [international students] to find these organizations,” Rodriguez said.

As for Xu, the China native feels as though she is at home in Texas. She wants to join an outdoor sport in order to take advantage of Austin’s weather and enjoy the opportunities she did not have in China. 

“UT is very interesting,” she said. “Professors are nice and the classes are professional. It is very different.”