Advice for New Summer Start Students: Interview With a Graduate

Hugh Xiao
Hugh Xiao

By: Claire Kang

The first year of university can be a mix of excitement and anxiousness, especially for new Summer Start Students who are starting the new chapter of their lives in a new country. Hugh Xiao, 2014 Summer Start Participant, completed his journey at UC Davis last quarter and wants to welcome new students by sharing what he has learned from his four-year undergraduate life.

Claire Kang: How did you like Summer Start?

Hugh Xiao: Summer Start helped me to get familiar with campus, nearby transportation, class registration, meeting new friends, and so on. I appreciated all the guidance and support from the professors, staff members, and assistants. Thanks to the program, I could grow faster than I had expected.

CK: What do you think  is the most important thing to freshman students?

HX: I believe being active on campus is most important to new students. I learned so much from exploring campus by attending various workshops. I hope new students will take full advantage of campus resources and make the most of their university years. Get out of your comfort zone, and expand yourself through various activities.

CK: Here, there seems to be a lot more freedom as to what students can identify with or what is acceptable. How did you manage to set boundaries between what you’d better do and what you’d better not do?

HX: Being selective in campus life is important. I tried to be selective about how I wanted to use my time and energy. In order to do that, I tried to search for mentors and learn different aspects of life. Mentors can be anyone: professors, counselors, friends, roommates.

CK: If you could start your undergraduate life again, what would you want to do differently?

HX:  I think I could have engaged in more social activities and tried to get to know more people. It is important for students to study hard to do well in their classes, but university life is not just about it; it should be more than simply taking classes and studying for exams. I believe balancing study and social life is the true key to university success.

CK: One of the challenges of living in a different country is the language.  For many international students, English can be a barrier when they take lectures and interact with professors. How did you overcome the barrier?

HX: I understand speaking English could be intimidating for new students, but the fear will go away with time as long as they make efforts to be more active on campus. Also, don’t be afraid of making mistakes! I still look up words online all the time.

CK: It seems that speaking English was not the real challenge for you. Was there a big challenge when you were an undergraduate? If there was, how did you overcome it?

HX: I have met some people who have stereotypes of Asians. I have realized that I cannot really change how people think about my ethnic or cultural backgrounds. Instead, I have decided to focus on how I carry myself. I cannot change stereotypes, but stereotypes can neither change nor define me. At the end of the day, people who know me well will consider me as an inviting and kind person.  

CK: What are your next plans after graduation?

HX: I value the pursuit of higher education. I am going to continue my education path by starting my PhD in Biomedical Engineering and receiving more trainings in doing research.

On July 18 and 20, Hugh is going to host one-hour Live Online Q&A Sessions. He will share many pieces of advice for new Summer Start students and answer general questions about campus life. Sign up here!