National Transfer Student Week—every third week in October—celebrates transfer students and the professionals who support them on their journeys. Join us in recognizing those who have made this journey! #TransferStudentWeek. Here we meet Wenyu Xiang, majoring in Food Science.
My name is Wenyu Xiang, a Food Science senior. I have participated in the 2+2 program jointly organized by the South China University of Technology (SCUT) and Rutgers since September 2020. In my freshman year, I learned that a 2+2 program was designed for junior students at SCUT, which would give us a 2-year experience of American study and life at Rutgers.
I had a strong desire to seize this opportunity and started preparing for the application. During the winter vacation of my sophomore year, I was about to start filling out the online application system, but at this time COVID-19 came. Immediately after the international travel restrictions were released, my classmates and I felt worried and anxious.
Soon, some of my classmates decided to quit this program, because after all, this was a global epidemic; safety was always the most important issue while studying in a foreign country alone. Moreover, as Chinese students, we might not be able to arrive in the United States at the beginning of the new semester because of policy restrictions. Honestly, my family and I also had the same concern, and even my mentor suggested I reconsider it.
When I was particularly upset, I received a lot of comfort and care from Rutgers, especially assistant dean of International Programs Megan Francis, undergraduate program director of Food Science Chitra Ponnusamy, professor Weilin Huang from the Department of Environmental Sciences, and Hyunjin Yeo, from the Office of International Programs.
In the end, I decided to come here even though I felt that the journey of studying in a foreign country was not easy. Even without this pandemic, there might be other difficulties that would become my first challenge. COVID-19 was just the first difficulty, and I certainly did not want to be knocked down at the beginning.
Professor Huang kept me updated on the situation in New Jersey and what was being done—masking, staying indoors, online classes, etc.—to prevent the spread of the virus.
Then I found out that due to the pandemic, Rutgers had decided to hold classes online only in the fall of 2020. This meant that, during the school year, I started my day of classwork while everyone around me was getting ready to go to bed…and then when everyone around me was up and doing things outdoors, I was sleeping! My community in China was 12 hours ahead of Rutgers in New Brunswick. I lived the life of a New Jersey student but in China! This means I missed out on most outdoor activities. However, this extra year also allowed me to better prepare for going to the United States.
During the year of online classes, professor Huang had been updating me on the epidemic situation in New Jersey and how the school was providing guarantees for the safety of students. Also, dean Francis has always been concerned about my situation and asked me when I would arrive in the United States.
A year later, the restrictions on international travel were lifted, and I finally came to the campus! The past year of online classes brought me a lot of psychological and physical challenges, but I still don’t feel that choosing to come to Rutgers has brought me a meaningless and regrettable experience. I always believe that this special memory will make me stronger and more resilient in the face of setbacks. Especially after arriving at Rutgers, I truly realized that the hard work I had done before paid off.