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Yue Su, who goes by the name Selena in the United States, is a graduate student majoring in the science of accounting at Pace University in New York City. A native of Shandong Province in China, she’s a highly motivated student who wanted to see more of the world and gain experience in American business culture. She set her eyes on one of the world’s biggest financial districts — New York City — and chose Pace University as a good place to achieve her goals.

What else about studying at Pace University appealed to you? Did you tour the campus before applying?

Pace University was the best campus location-wise. It’s close to Wall Street, which I knew would present me with many opportunities to find internships and network with professionals. I didn’t tour the campus before applying, but I did get to see various pictures of it. I liked that the school was located at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge and that there was an amazing night view of the World Trade Center.

What are some of the extra-curricular things you do? What made you get involved?

A while ago I participated in the VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program for two months, which helps low-income individuals file their tax returns. Currently, I serve as Vice President of Pace’s Toastmasters Club. I often visit corporate Toastmasters clubs, including Moody’s, Blackrock’s and Standard & Poor’s. These clubs have given me the chance to learn from professionals.

I serve as the Chairman of Community Service at Beta Alpha Psi (an international honor society for students and professionals in the financial sector). I’m in charge of scheduling and managing community service events, as well as leading the group in volunteering every week.

Besides my after-school activities, I work at the Pace International office as a Student Assistant. Before joining all of these clubs, I was a girl who lacked confidence, but through my involvement in these activities I feel myself improving.

Anyone who studies far from home knows that it can be tough being away from friends and family. How have you dealt with homesickness?

I’ve never felt that way, since I’m kind of an independent person. Some tips for those who do get homesick would be to try to make plans for every day and to do what you like to do. That way you don’t have time to miss your family!

Tell us about your current living situation. Do you have any tips for incoming students?

I live off campus with two roommates, but we hardly hang out together because we all have different goals and hobbies. Choosing a place to live while in college depends on what you’re looking for. Do you care more about rental fees, the distance to school, the environment, or what? It all comes down to personal preference. I prefer to live near campus. It’s much more convenient this way. I can head on over to school whenever I need to.

How did you go about making friends? Any advice for our readers?

The best way to make friends is to join clubs because you can meet a group of people who have the same interests as you, which makes it easier to create long-lasting friendships. Take me, for example; the Pace Toastmasters Club is a group of people who are all interested in public speaking. We always have topics in common to chat about.

What are some advantages of being an international student?

International students work harder because of expectations we’ve set for ourselves. We come here to study with a goal to absorb as much knowledge and culture as possible in a short period of time. That means we need to be more efficient in the way we learn than native students do. And we cherish our college experience more because we are only in the country temporarily.

What are some of the differences between life in China versus life in America?

The culture in America is different from China. In China, it is a virtue to be modest and humble, which, in my eyes, seems to be quite the opposite in America, whether regarding academics or maintaining a social life. There also seems to be a mentality of “I can” instead of “I may” in the U.S. For example, if someone asks me whether I can do a project, I am supposed to say, “Yes, I can” instead of “Maybe, I am not sure if I have the ability to handle it.” It’s all about being confident in your abilities to do something.

Confidence is significantly important. It doesn’t seem that an unconfident person in the U.S. will have an easy time.

(Nicole Martinez conducted this interview, which has been condensed and edited.)

Kaplan International supports the Pathways program at Pace and the “On Campus With” feature that recognizes successful Pathways students.