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It's About Dance,  Economics and Diversity for International Student Jacqueline Woo

Jacqueline Woo has been attending Emory University located in Atlanta, Georgia for two years now. She says getting into the flow of studying and physically adjusting was okay, however there are several other things she has been challenged by. “Coming from Singapore it is not terribly difficult to adjust to being in the United States. In terms of academics it wasn’t hard at all. I am pretty use to studying so that was fine and the professors are really accessible here which I really enjoy,” she says.

“I think one of the things I had to learn to adjust to was the fact that I’m Chinese and I come from a majority Asian country and over here there are more Caucasian and more Blacks and also at Emory and throughout the United States there is some self segregation so that was something that I didn’t expect and I wasn’t use to,” she says.

“I also had to learn to reach out to people who are different from me and understand that people are coming from a lot of very different backgrounds so I kind of had to give people the benefit of the doubt and put myself out there in order to establish relationships, but so far it’s been really good and I’ve really enjoyed myself just learning about the school system here and what it is like to live here and I have also formed really good friendships, so overall, it’s been a really good experience.”

Choosing a major is required by students back in Singapore and Jacqueline says not having to do so when coming here played a major role in going to college in the United States. “I decided to come to the U-S to study at Emory because of the broad system in the U-S where you don’t have to declare a major until you have entered college and where they also require you to complete certain educational requirements,” she says.

“Back in Singapore we are required to choose our major before we get in and after that it’s pretty much all of our courses are concentrated on that one major, but I thought that since I was interested in a variety of things I wanted to have a broader sort of education and that is why I wanted to come to the U-S.”

There are many subjects Jacqueline enjoys learning about. Exactly what they are, she tells us.“Well, I’m majoring in Economics right now, but I am also interested in social sciences and right now the internship that I am doing is kind of like based into political science and sociology and all of it is kind of entwined together so I am interested in that and I am also interested in Anthropology which I have taken a few classes and read a few books about,” she says.

"I also like being able to take dance classes at Emory because I have been dancing since I was in high school so to be able to continue that and have that as part of my course curriculum is really nice.”

Although Jacqueline has a few more years before she completes her degree at Emory, she acknowledges being in the United States has personally helped her grow and develop as a person. “There is a lot of optimism at Emory at least from what I have experienced. I think I appreciate how people give you opportunities even if you are not very experienced and those opportunities have allowed me to grow and to learn about a lot of different things so I really appreciate that and I think I have learn to respect diversity a lot more and to realized that some people express themselves in different ways, but that doesn’t necessary mean that they are bad people or that they harbor bad intentions towards you,” she says.

“But I think I have just gotten a more comprehensive understanding of what it is like to build relationships and to be vulnerable before people and I think I have also kind of learn how politics affects people in their daily lives and that is still something that I am learning as well.”

Jacqueline says she plans to complete an honors thesis so she can graduate with honors. She explains.“I am planning on spending my senior year doing an honor thesis and it’s basically kind of like an independent research project and different departments have different criteria for what students can qualify to do an honor thesis, basically we spend a year doing research and we are guided by faculty but it will be my own topic and at the end of it all after we write our thesis we have to come before a panel kind of like doing a PhD, but not as intense,” she says.

“And if I didn’t do that I would probably be able to graduate maybe in a year or half a year early, but since I am I will probably graduate in May 2011.”