Imagine coming to a completely different country barley knowing how to speak the native language and having to learn everything from scratch.
Yuchen Zhou, known on the Castleton University campus as “Charlie,” is a 22-year-old education leadership major from China with a 4.0 GPA.
She is also an SOS leader, student assistant coach of the Castleton’s women basketball team, ECO rep, and the Chinese teaching assistant, who teaches a class by herself.
“I wake up every day, 4:30 a.m., and have my whole day planned out. I work very hard on time management. I make a lot of sacrifices because of my workload, but I enjoy staying busy,” Zhou said with big smile.
Tess Webber, a senior theater arts major, says Zhou simply brightens up campus.
“I think the best thing about Charlie is that she’s always willing to talk and whenever I see her on campus she never fails to smile and say hi,” Webber said.
Zhou smiled through a recent 20-minute interview enthusiastically answering questions about her life here, her home in China and her future.
“The American food is very good, and it has so many more calories than it does back home,” said Zhou with a quiet laugh. “My favorite food is pizza, and my favorite song is ‘Fly Me to the Moon’ by Frank Sinatra.”
Zouh, who has short-cropped hair and a mountain bike in her office, rattled off lots of things she likes about her time here. But there are sacrifices, she said.
“I mostly miss my family and all of my connections from people from back home although I still video chat with my parents every day,” she said.
Eartha Gentle, a sophomore social work major and summer roommate of Zhou, said she has learned a lot from her.
“I love how open-minded she is to the American culture.” “I admire her dedication and willpower to do whatever she sets her mind to.”
Zhou spoke more about the American culture, offering insight on what she likes about it compared to traditional Chinese culture.
“In America, the parenting style is more independent, and I love that,” she said.
She also spoke about how coming to America, she had to learn the basic skills of being independent. She said she loves how small Castleton University is and all of the many opportunities you have here.
“I get done what I need to here without all of the funny business,” Zhou said.
For fun, Zhou plays the piano, guitar, and drums and she learned them all when she was very little. She’s always been focused and driven, she said.
Jeff Gramlich, a sophomore psychology major and SOS leader, is also a fan.
“She is a great person to be around, she’s a great friend and is super passionate in everything she does. On top of that, she is a fantastic professor and is always willing to help everyone around her,” said Gramlich
As much as everyone looks up to Zhou, she said she looks up to others like Dean Jonathan Spiro and President Karen Scolforo.
“I love how friendly they are and how much President Scolforo loves her dog,” said Zhou.
Zhou seems to be settling into Castleton University very nicely and she had a couple of parting comments.
“Thank you to everyone here, thank you for the support,” said Zhou with a sincere smile, followed by, “live in the moment and stay hungry.”