Yixuan Jin is a junior transfer student majoring in accounting.
It’s her first year at UIUC, but it’s not her first year in Champaign.
Although she’s technically a new international student at UIUC, she’s lived in Champaign for two years while she attended Parkland College.
During that time, her independence grew, she discovered the best that Champaign had to offer, and she met a lifelong friend—Siyuan Liang.
Liang is a second-year grad student studying nutrition science.
When she first came to the states about a year ago, she met Jin who was her neighbor.
“She’s very independent and she helped me a lot when I first moved here,” Liang said of Jin.
And the rest, as the saying goes, is history.
Jin and Liang were sitting together at the International Student and Scholar Services New International Student Reception on August 18.
The reception was a way for new students to meet faculty and staff at the university as well as make new friends.
Liang said although this is her second year at UIUC, she attended the reception at Jin’s request.
She said Jin, in a way, showed her how to navigate the town. Now, she said it’s her turn to help Jin navigate campus.
Jin said she can’t wait.
“This is my very first year (as a UIUC student) so I’m looking forward to university life, the professors, classes and how everything will go,” Jin said.
Jin said there’s so many things she still needs to discover on and off campus, but for now she wants to hang out with her friends and talk to her professor regarding her career.
Liang said she’s already become familiar with life on campus, however like Jin she’s also looking forward to meeting new friends in addition to going to more conferences and traveling around the country to those conferences.
Since it’s her second year, she said most of her time and energy will be spent on her research because eventually she wants to publish her first academic article.
As the year progresses on, Jin and Liang said they will continue to attend events like the reception because it benefits their career goals and life goals.
For instance, Jin said she can make a lot of friends at events like the reception and in doing so she can meet people from different areas of expertise and study and learn more about the world that way.
“We’re all Illini, right, so we can get to know each other,” Jin said.
Liang said she likes joining these activities not just to meet new people but because she loves listening to the speeches and the conversations.
For example, Dr. Reitumetse Obakeng Mabokela, the vice provost for international affairs and global strategies, gave a welcome speech during the reception.
Much of what Dr. Mabokela said could clearly be seen in the friendship shared between Jin and Liang.
Dr. Mabokela looked out to the crowd of new international students and said that their Illinois story is just beginning.
“As I look out at all of you, I see a diverse and exceptional generation of students. From my own experience, I know that it takes great courage to leave the comfort of your home culture and educational system and to immerse yourselves intellectually and socially into a new place,” Dr. Mabokela said. “Your courage will be richly rewarded here at Illinois. It will be rewarded by the many new friendships you will form with fellow students, the mentorship you will receive from your professors, and the tremendous growth you will experience as you study new ideas and work toward your dreams.”
Liang said it’s speeches like Dr. Mabokela’s that keep her coming to events like the reception and keep her smiling.
“I feel like I’m not alone here,” Liang said. “I come from another country and just listening to speeches makes me feel warm and coming here I can meet people and feel like I’m in a group.”