Zhiyuan Chen: Hangzhou, China

Enchanting reverbs from a guzheng instrument, and the rustling waves of Hangzhou, China, orchestrate memories for Zhiyuan Chen, but Southern tranquility is attuning her to peace and quiet at Auburn.

“I like the quiet environment because I can focus more on myself and what I want to do,” Chen said.

A freshman majoring in electrical engineering, Chen was inspired to pursue a technological career when friends complimented her ability to solve computing problems.

Teachers in China recommended she enrich her talents at a renowned engineering university and suggested Auburn. In August 2017, Chen flew 16 hours across the world to begin her journey on the Plains.

“Everything was so new, and I felt extremely nervous,” Chen said. “But simple things like strangers smiling and holding the door open helped reduce my stress.”

Auburn University’s Chinese student enrollment of 1,035, the highest of any foreign country, has also eased stress and is making adjustment a communal one, but the engineering professors, she said, have been instrumental in enhancing her first semester.

“In Auburn, the engineering professors solve problems in a calm way, and I absolutely love that,” Chen said.

Teal lake waters traverse Hangzhou, but in Auburn, a blanket of blue now hovers her sky.

The sunlight beams her path as she walks to class. She sits down and takes out her notebook because now, she said, it’s the professors turn to enlighten her.

“I know I’ll have beautiful opportunities here for me to learn and grow as an engineer here,” Chen said as she looked around the university she now adores as a second home.