This is the continuation of Xiangtao Meng’s story of studying at Queen’s University as an international student. Read Part 1 and 2 to find out about his experience of learning English language for university preparation and his first year at Queen’s.
Part 3: The acceleration
Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind; it is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees; it is a matter of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions; it is the freshness of the deep springs of life. By Samuel Ullman
I believe that Queen’s is more than a scholar factory with limestone buildings, books, classes, exams and scholars. It embodies a strong community, active student leadership and engaged administration. It is the place where new ideas sparkle and new skills develop. After a transition from east to west and an adaptation to local culture, I eventually got over homesickness and enjoy my life full of contentment from being with my housemates, taking interesting but challenging courses and involving in extracurricular activities.
Right before my second year started, I contacted that engineering student who helped me in my first year and thanked him again. Surprisingly, he said: “You do not have to thank me, but that is what the Queen´s community is all about.” In such a tight and supportive community, there are infinite opportunities of knowing new people and making friends, but bearing in mind making good friends does take time. Not until the second semester in my first year did I make friends with my current housemates, who enrapture me when we live together. Coming from four ethnic groups but with similar personal traits and interests, three other housemates and I care about each other, have fun in watching movies and cooking together and enjoy discussing world history, literature and religion, and most importantly we learn from each other. When I come back home, their smiling faces release my stress and their words of warmth and encouragement hearten me. We are not only sincere housemates who enjoy each other’s company, but also housemates who point out shortcomings of others and perfect ourselves together.
Other than contentment from my housemates, my academics bring me fulfillment. Generally speaking, class sizes of upper year courses are smaller than those of first year courses. I enrolled in an environmental economics course (Econ 391: topics in environmental economics) with only twenty students. With such a small class size and an interactive teaching approach consisting of group studies, presentations, essays and self-research, this course offers me an incredible learning experience. It was in a first year philosophy course that I wrote my longest English essay, and it is in this course that I made my first presentation. Moreover, my perspective on environmental economics has changed by studying how humans value nature, learning environmental ethics and conducting a simulation on trading emission permits. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses without any doubt. Take advantage of these strengths and overcome these weaknesses while learning, and that it is.
In addition to academics, I also get involved in some extracurricular activities. In my first year, I joined Queen’s Campus Lions Club, which is a two-year-old club focusing on fundraising and senior health. This year, I was elected as a Club President. Even though I have spent a lot of time and effort in this position, although sometimes with extra stress and pressure, I would say being a Club President is another incredible experience I have in my second year because of the leadership skills and problem-solving skills I have learnt. Due to a big turnover, caused by former member’s graduation, internship and exchange, Lions Club underwent a member shortage at the beginning of this school year. With the help from members and my supervisor, I started promotions in the Frosh Week and Queen’s Club Night. It was the first time for me to realize how hard it is to organize and market events. After another month’s promotion through social media, nearly ten new members joined this club finally, which was a good result for a small club. With the aim of serving Queen’s and Kingston’s communities, Lions Club is organizing a photo contest, Capture Queen’s U, which allows student to express their unique experience at Queen’s. For me, being a President and an event organizer not only provides me with opportunities of learning new skills and meeting new people, but it also allows me to affiliate tightly to Queen’s community by serving other students and helping those in need.
Apart from organizing a club, I am also volunteering as a Co-Chair for a publication, CultureSHOCK!, under Social Issues Commission. CultureSHOCK! is an anti-racist publication which strives to provide a forum in the Queen’s and Kingston community for artistic expression for those who have been historically and currently marginalized. After working hard on editing and designing for a month, I am excited about CultureSHOCK’s launch at the end of March. As a Co-Chair, not only am I enchanted on promoting equity among different ethnic groups at Queen’s, but I also enjoy working with others on designing this publication and organizing events. In fact, I returned to School of English for one of its photo campaigns so as to call for submission of photos, which brought me here to write this blog.
Visit CultureSHOCK! Facebook Page
As you may not know, Queen’s has the Canadian’s oldest undergraduate student government and the second largest number of clubs in the world, only to Harvard. Thousands of dedicated and passionate students are serving for Queen’s community, and tons of opportunities exist. For me, it is getting involved in extracurricular activities that accelerates my integration into this community and enhances my experience.
Samuel Ullman wrote in his famous poem Youth: “Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul”. Surrounded by enthusiastic peers, ardent professors and other faithful employees, I feel as if a stream of passion was flowing in my heart: working hard, playing hard and never giving up trying.
Thanks to the School of English who provided me with this opportunity to share my story, and thanks to everyone who helped me in the past two years, especially my housemates.
Something about me:
I am into painting, playing tin whistle, reading the classics, and I am also attracted by the beauty of jet engines. You can reach me at: firstname.lastname@example.org