Yu Shan ‘Zoey’ Zhuang“At first, I was kinda lonely. But then I made some friends in class. And then I started joining the clubs, and….”

Yu Shan Zhuang (‘Zoey’ to her friends and those who might not speak Mandarin Chinese perfectly) is an irrepressible spirit. A bundle of energy, and someone who loves to laugh. “In my first year here, I realized that most of my friends were also Chinese. And I thought, ‘Okay. What am I doing here? I might just as well be back in China!’ ” she says with a laugh. “And that’s when I started joining the student clubs, like AGS (an honors society) and the Psychology Club.” And now Zoey numbers among her friends people that might evoke the menu in a United Nations dining hall. “Brazilians, Africans, Spanish, French, American, and Thai. Yeah! We all get together around common interests. And, of course, English.”

Zoey hails from a city in mainland China, near Hong Kong, and speaks Mandarin, Cantonese, and fluent English. “But, yeah, my parents wanted me to go abroad, and told me that America has so many more outstanding universities. And then, I wanted to learn a new culture, customs, and language, so… here I am!” Zoey adds, “So many students in China want to come to SMC. Especially if they talk to me!,” she says with an impish laugh. “And I don’t have a lot of problems with the English language, because my American friends are always helping me.” But Zoey adds that one SMC professor helped her enormously in the few areas of English where she had to struggle.

“I had a Psych 1 class with Dr. Alex Schwartz. For international students, it can be really difficult to understand the technical words. And I was scared! But Dr. Schwartz is extremely patient, because he knows what we internationals are going through. Even before classes began,” Zoey continues, “he’d say, ‘Okay. Here come some of those terms today. So let’s just have a little preview before we start.’”

Read more stories from present and past years in the SMC Student Spotlight Archive.