Author Archives: Anan Wan

Great Help from Senior Grad Students

Help from J school

Before I applied to WVU, I only knew Virginia, but not West Virginia. And “West Virginia” to me was just a song– “Take Me Home, Country road”.

So, why did I choose WVU? J school?

I never thought I would attend WVU, for WVU was the last university I applied to. I didn’t much about it, and it was not famous in my country. But the thing was, one day the Direct of Graduate Studies, Dr. Urbanski emailed me that he wanted to an interview to see if I was right for this program and I can ask any questions about the program. I applied to several universities, but WVU was the one that wanted to interview me! Although four of them admitted me and one of them even provided me a scholarship, I still chose WVU as I thought having an interview was responsible for both the program and the applicant.

After that interview, Dr. Urbanski asked Boya Xu, a then second-year graduate student in our program to contact me to see if I would still have any question. As Boya is from China  too, Dr. Urbanski thought that would be easier for us to communicate and answer my questions in a international student’s perspective. Boya was really helpful, and she almost taught me everything including renting the house, applying for visa, what I should bring from China, etc, before I came to America. We became good friends and still keep in touch now.

Then, this year. There are four Chinese students applying our program, and Dr. Urbanski asked me to talk to them and answer their questions like what Boya did last year. I tried my best to help them as I really appreciated how Dr. Urbanski and Boya had helped me out.

Help from WVU Student Organizations Services

As I mentioned in my post last week that for those who want to study abroad or work in another country, finding your community is a great help, the students associations for international students are of great help.

This is the list of all the WVU Student Organizations. The Student Organization Service has clubs for almost every major and specific area. For example, there are 35 different organizations under the category “Cultural and International”, including the Chinese Students & Scholars Association, Japanese Club, Indian Association, etc. They are all run by senior students.

These international organizations are the communities for the international students and whoever is interested in foreign cultures. For example, besides celebrating festivals and holding parties, Chinese Association also provides Orientation for all new-comers, pick-ups from Pittsburgh Airport, Guidebook of living in Morgantown, job-hunting infos and academic conferences informations, etc.


Another Kind of Assistantships and Lessons for International Graduate Students

Yes, our group introduced different kinds of graduate assistantships this week, whether teaching or researching, dealing with students or faculties. As an international graduate student, it’s not easy to get an full-time GA position before you actually enter this program. Obviously, choosing an international student as a graduate assistant before you meet he or she in person is taking a risk, as we have language barriers and cultural differences, which means we need to learn much more than American students and adapt to the totally strange environment.

Myself, a then non-journalsim major international student, didn’t have the ability or skills to get a GA position in journalism. However, luckily, I got a remission package which including a full tuition waiver and a 10-hour-per-week part-time job as a student worker in J school. Almost all the international students in our program got or will get this kind of remission package.

So, let talk about this 10-hour-per-week work that most international student did or will do. I am working for Professor Lois Raimondo, the Shott Chair of Journalism, who teaches photojournalism classes and does researches on Asian (especially Japanese and Chinese) photography (my background can contribute to this work). My job is collecting information about Japanese photographers (last semester) and Chinese photographers (this semester), which is the “research” part, covering classes for her when she is out of town, which is the “deal-with-students” part and the library part as ordering, borrowing and returning books and DVDs for her.

I believe it might fit all the Chinese students in our program that this job is an easier way for us to understand the “flow” of the assistantships and adapt to the American college life and also we can provide some help to J school. Personally, it also offers me a new world that I never saw before with the amazing photos, creative thoughts and different people, although I had some hard time during this year.

Studying and working in another country is not easy but worthy. Once you dare to start, you are half done.

Here are the tips for whoever want to study abroad or work abroad (whether for international students here or Americans who want to work in another country):

1. Respect other and their culture, and others will also respect you and your culture. That is the fastest way to adapt to the environment and will not make yourself at least unhappy.

2. Always ask for help when you have troubles. I believe most local people can understand your situation and are willing to help according to my experience. Trying to learn their language is a must to live in a strange environment.

3. Be nice. It’s good for them and also for yourself. That’s also why people are willing to help you out.

3. Find your community. When you are homesick, especially during the festival season, your community is like your home and your compatriots are your family.

A World of Possibilities for International Students

As all you guys can see, the international students whether graduated with a M.S. in journalism or are still working on it, in J school are very few. From what I have known, there was a Korean, two Chinese, Boya Xu and Linging Hang, who graduated from J school in recent years. And now, Deepa from India, Magdalena from Poland and myself from China are still on our way to this degree.

OK. So let’s see what they are doing now after graduation with a Master in journalism as international students.

Lingbing Hang was a photographer in a Chinese newspaper before she came to WVU. She has rich experience in art photography and now is teaching an introduction class of photography in J school.

I know Boya Xu very well as we’re close in age and she helped me a lot when I prepared to come to WVU. She is about to graduate recently and maybe enter a PhD program this fall.

Deepa Fadnis will graduate this May and wants to be a journalist or a English teacher after graduation.

Despite facing the same problem of work or PhD after graduation with American students, international students need to decide whether they want to stay in America or go back to their own countries. I think most international students want to find a job or continue study in America which is quite obvious. But the problem is how?

In job hunting, international students in journalism major are not that competitive to local students whether in language-using ability, cultural adaptability and social relationships, unless we are able to find some jobs fit us and need our international backgrounds.

We have talked a lot about PhD programs in this blog. That requires you being very interested in research and theories, and that will take you much more time than getting a Master degree.

As for me, I will first try to find a job in America, and if that fails, I will go back to China, as home is better than any other places.


Exploring American When Away From Home

When it was a holiday such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Spring Break, weekends, I was not able to go home frequently as American students. So, my choice is to travel! Exploring America whenever I have time. It aways cost me a lot, but I enjoyed it and it seemed to be better than staying in a “dead” town as a “don’t-have-a-car” person during holidays.

Above is the map of the places I have been to in American since I came to US on August, 2011.

1. Pittsburgh. I went there so many times. Eating Chinese food there, shopping and catching flights in Pittsburgh International Airport — the most important things for my trips are the most things I do in Pittsburgh.

2. DC. I just went to DC once. There are lots of interesting museums there, and my favorite one is the news museum — Newseum, which I think every of us should go there one time.

3. NYC. I should say New York City is the city which looks like Chinese cities the most. Large population, crowds, messy, people from everywhere and delicious Chinese food make New York City unique to other American cities I have been to.

4. Boston. It is quiet and beautiful. Boston is a good example of the combination of historic and modern. A great place for shopping and history fans.

5. Los Angeles. In my memory, LA is made up of celebrities, money, fans, movies, Staples Center, tourists and Spanish. It’s convenient for tourists, but I don’t like it that much, as it is far different from my expectations.

6. Las Vegas. I believe everyone will like it and will have a lot of fun. It’s gorgeous and luxury. Have the preparations for losing, as “Las Vegas is built by losers”.

7. Grand Canyon. It is an amazing natural place that everyone knows that. You will feel so small as comparing to the great nature. The beautiful scenery makes people speechless.

8. San Diego. This is my favorite place in America. It has Beautiful beaches, nice people, clean environment and wonderful weather.  I especially like the ships and submarine museums there!

9. Orlando. I just came back from Orlando for Spring break. I went to Disneyland and Universal studio. Disneyland, especially the Magic Kingdom, makes me travel back to my childhood and real happiness from bottom of my heart. Universal studio has many of movie-related attractions with high-techs that was so fresh to me. I wish I can go there again!

What do you think of these places? And give me some suggestions for my next exploring trip!

Work or Grad School after Graduation? –“the China Version”

As all fellow classmates talked about the work or study dilemma, either based on their own stories and the whole situation of most American students, in our “Decisions and Visions” part, I would like to introduce the Chinese “work or grad school” situation.

Chinese university system is quite different from that of American. They need to decide our major before taking the college entrance exam, and is also hard to change the major then. The job demand determines your career after graduation:

“Unlike universities in America or Europe, students in China apply for majors when they take the college entrance exam. Due to fierce competitions, to get in a “hot” major program, one must score high enough as many people are interested in that major. When a student’s scores do not qualify him for the major of choice, he may be pushed down to a less popular major in college. Whether a major is in demand or not depends primarily on its job prospect.”

                                                                                                                — China News

Thus, for those who don’t like their majors and can’t change their majors, like myself, if they don’t want enter a field which they don’t want to, the best way is to start the grad school with another major. However, even they can get the admission to the grad school, the problem still exists– grad school will be harder for those whom don’t have much background of the field they will study.

A Job Fair in China

Since the global finance crisis, Chinese college graduates are facing the worst job market these years. Even graduating with a “promising” major, college graduates are not that easy to find a good job like before. They turn to grad school for helping them stay away from the tough job market just like the situation of America.

Of course, there are still many people applying for grad school to seek academic progress in their field of study. All these three kinds of people make the number of grad school applicants increase every year. But whether a master’ degree can really help to get a nice job?

However, “hot” majors might become “cold”, and vice versa. Neither can we change the economic environment nor can we predict the change of the job market. So, my suggestion is do whatever you really like and choose whatever fits you, either grad school or work.
I would like to talk more about the Chinese grad schools and make a comparison with ours if possible.

Off-Campus Housing Problems for Graduate Students

I found my house, which is off course off-campus, before I came to US through a Yahoo group for all Chinese people in Morgantown which provides all house, sales, transportation, events, etc information in the Morgantown Chinese community. At that time, I know nothing about Morgantown nor anything about that house. I decided to rent this house once I saw three photos of the house my roommate sent to me. I still think I made that decision too hasty, but luckily everything goes well now.

From what I know, most graduate students live off-campus, but I know several graduate students still live in on-campus, which I think is expensive not only for the rent itself, but also the money spent on eating out due to the inconvenience of cooking at the dorm. I don’t know clearly how American graduate students find their houses, but I think we may face the same problems in WVU.

Transportations and Parking Map near Martin Hall

 1. Car. Most Americans have their own cars, new or used, luxury or for basic use.   I’m still considering whether I should buy a used car. For graduate students, especially for international graduate students, we only need two years to get a degree normally, so you have to think it carefully before you rent a house according to the your “car” situation. Could you afford a car(including maintenance) on a fixed income? Is there any place to park your car both at home and on campus especially in a bad weather? Will the parking be expensive since most of us need to work quite long hours in school?

2. Convenience. WVU has three campuses. If you don’t have a car like myself, the house you rent should be convenient to most places you frequently go to. Thus, I need to find a house either near downtown campus or public transportations(bus or PRT). Now I live in South Park which takes me about 20-minute walk to Jschool and 10-minute walk to the Walnut PRT Station. The Orange 4-South bus line also passes my house. That would be a somewhat convenient place for me. Here you can find the information of WVU Transportations & Parking.

3. Eating. Undergraduate students who mostly live on-campus have meal plans, so  they don’t need to worry about their meals nor cooking themselves. As a graduate student live off-campus, I always cook myself if I have time… Cooking myself is cheaper but takes more time. Buying food ingredients is another thing making me headache. Some good suggestions are provided by my classmates in our previous posts.