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 Yantai Student at FGCU

Viny’s US Diary

This photo diary describes the experiences of Song Xiaying at FGCU. Viny, as she is known to her friends, was at FGCU for Spring and Summer Semesters 2007.

As you can see, she also visited other areas of the United States during her time here.


After a week spent in Idaho and a long journey once again, I finally arrived at Beijing and saw my parents. This was a trip totally by myself and I had stayed at Seattle airport for a flight connection for 18 hours.

A 200-day- "trip" is ended. Another new life is about to start. Miss the past, grasp the present and create the future. Wherever I go, whatever I do, I'll always cherish my times in America.

And, I'm sure I'll be back!!


I'm heading to my last destination in America-Idaho. When my friends heard of it, they all asked me in surprise "What's the hell? Are you going to dig potatoes?" Actually, it's for a visit. One of my American teacher lives there and he taught me two years ago in Yantai.

I've been longing for the west for a long time, especially after watching an American movie called . For now, I still can't believe this dream will come true and I'll able to see my teacher again in only one day! I don't know I should be sad for leaving or excited about this coming visit.

I'm in Mei's house right now. She will give me a ride to the airport tomorrow. It's quite late and since I have to get up at 5:30am, what about going to bed right away?

Leaving with Smile

Finished the last final, I took out of the dust-covered suitcases and began to pack up.

Yes, believe or not, I have to face this fact-it's really time for go. Luggage seems as the same size as what I brought half a year ago. But it just looks the same. I have so many beautiful and unforgettable memories carrying along with me, including the friendship, happiness, excitement, as well as hardship and challenges.

I'm leaving, getting rid of the tears and sadness, with smile, wishes and hope.

Goodbye, dear Florida, perhaps, this parting is a new start of our next gathering.

Goodbye, dear friends, let's keep in touch, and welcome all of you to take a visit to China. I'm waiting for you guys there, maybe, for the Olympics!

Goodbye Party

I had my goodbye party yesterday. Due to the summer time, there were not so many students available on campus, but I still had some getting together and suddenly I noticed that we are from seven different countries. I made fried dumplings again. Firstly, we hang out a bit at my dorm, and then we went to a bar. Without carrying my passport, I was told that I was not allowed to drink any alcohol-that's exactly what I wanted!

We drank (I drank juice) and chatted and had another great time-a perfect ending of my social life at FGCU. I had no idea when and where we could be able to meet with each other again, so I especially cherish this last chance. We had fun-that's enough.

Visiting Days

These two days, there were two leaders of my university (Yantai University) coming to FGCU for a short visit. Ellen and I were lucky to be able to join several referring activities along with our teachers and faculties here.

Last afternoon, we went around and took a look at some departments of FGCU. This morning, we went to Edison and Ford Estates. It was hot, but I really enjoyed times there.

Glad to see the deeper and deeper relationship built between these two universities. Without it, I couldn't able to come to U.S. as an exchange student.

Dan left today as well. I felt so sad and I don't know when I can see him again.

4th of July

This afternoon, Angela picked me up and we went to Elaine's house with Li Ying (another Chinese girl) for a dinner. As Li Ying had to catch up with her later flight, we didn't spend very long time there. We tried the swing on hostess's garden, played with her cat "coconut' for a bit time, and then helped her prepare for the dinner. Even thought at last we didn't have enough time to taste all of the dishes, I have to say Elaine is really a fantastic cook!

I'm back!

Just came back from a 6-day tour trip of East Coast from June 17th~21st.It was really amazing!! It should last longer and longer and never end~

We went to New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Niagara Falls and Boston. Time was limited and our schedule was pretty rush.

Anyway, we did lots of sightseeing and photo taking. I know this was just a quick look and I should spend more time in order to experience more and understand more about the city cultures. Anyway, maybe next time. Tired but excited, I have to get ready for preparing for the coming last final.

End of Summer A

How time flies! I've already finished 3 summer-A-class finals and have one summer-C-course left.

I admit this period of time was kind of crazy as many friends mentioned to me before. Well, I just wanted to take full advantage of study opportunity here, and, it's done.

New York City, I'm coming!

Many Thanks

We had a wonderful day today. In the early morning, Juan picked us up. Then we had brunch, watched [Ocean' 13], played mini-golf and had a Mexican dinner with several friends.

I always feel lucky and grateful that we've got a chance to meet so many local Chinese people in Southwest Florida. Mei, Juan, Jia, Jiaying…during these months, they all keep thinking and taking very good care of us. They make our lives here more colorful and meaningful. I don't know how to express this deep appreciation but to say "thanks". Thank you so much! You all have made up another family here for us.

Rain Season

The rain season of Florida has already come. Nearly everyday it must rain a little bit. Many friends told me before in the summer time of Florida, the rain always come around 4pm just like attending an appointment. It's weird and it sounds interesting.

As a result, I have to carry an umbrella all the time. In China, umbrellas usually have two functions-one is for keeping off the rain, and the other is keeping off the sunshine. You can see people carrying umbrellas everywhere in the sunny days, since they want to protect their skin from the strong sunshine. But here I found out that people use them only for the first reason. Nobody will carry an umbrella under the sun. All the people would like to get tanned. That's why so many of them lie on the beach for several hours. This may be one of the differences between easterners and westerners.

Birthday and Wedding

This is my birthday but not my wedding though.

I'm 21 years old today. Since a few days ago, I've kept receiving B-day wishes from my friends. They said I could be a legal drinker now. Yes, I am. But as not a fan of beer at all, I don't have any special feeling about owning this right, which many others are looking forward to.

Under my friend's invitation, I joined a church wedding this afternoon. Before that, I only saw the classis process in the movies, so I was very curious and excited about taking a real look this time.

It was a great one. After that, we had a big dinner and party and had fun.

It's nearly midnight right now. Time for sleep. Tomorrow I have to get up quite early and then, head to Miami, lol!

Too Busy

--Watched first show of "Spider Man 3" in Tampa last Friday (the theater was full of people)
--Finally tried the craziest roller coasters last Saturday (felt I was going to die...)
--Went Jet Ski last Sunday (have fun in a crazy way)
--Back to summer classes since yesterday--fun days are over--begin to challenge myself on study --go overwhelming...

Commencement Ceremony

Today, as a volunteer, I'm glad to be involved into this one of the biggest and most important activities at FGCU.

My main job was to show guests directions. I was shocked and moved while seeing so many people coming, from little babies with pacifiers to the old sitting in the wheelchairs.

The progress of ceremony here is totally different. And I know it won't and can't able to happen in the same way in China. Because of such many graduates (there're 30,000 students in my university), it's impossible if the family members also get involved. And, the president would be tired to die if he gave the certificates, shake hands, and took pictures with students one by one. Moreover, I don't know why, graduation is not considered to be such a big deal in Chinese people's eyes, so the university and citizens won't pay such much attention to the ceremony.

Anyway, as experienced the lively scene atmosphere twice (morning and afternoon), I really feel proud of these American (mostly) graduates, and a little bit jealous.

End of Spring Semester

We finally finished up our last final of this semester. One-week-break is coming!!! However, I'm not feeling very excited since most of my friends have left or are leaving back home. I've got so much wonderful memories in these nearly four months and I know I should get ready for my new life.

Have a great trip guys. Hope we can have a chance to meet again!

My First Times II

--First time to book airplane tickets online

--First keystone (a kind of popular and cheap beer in U.S.)

--First time to come back from a party at over 5:00 am

--First time to dance on the dancing carpet

--First time to color eggs for Easter

--First sailing (in the lake)

--First time to play pool game

--First online shopping (mp3 player, its $20 cheaper here)

--First Japanese dinner (first taste on raw fish)

--First deep sea fishing (maybe the last time-first time to experience seasickness)

--First German dinner (totally different)

--First Becks (the most popular German exported beer)

I voted

I had my first vote in America today. It's a vote for the Student Government on campus. It was really ridiculous since I didn't know anything about the functions of the SG or any candidates AT ALL. Just because there were sooooo many enthusiastic and responsible students in the plaza pushing me to vote, I followed them at last. Now I still feel a little bad--it's not fair to the people on the list. Anyway, I finally took advantage of my right of voting here, and it was my first time to use voting machine.

One more question: is it the same reason why Bush is still in his place till now while so many Americans hate him??? That sucks.

International Celebration

This is a special week for our International students at FGCU. I had looked forward to it a lot before and I did enjoy all kinds of activities I just experienced.

We had Parade of Flag on Monday, International Expo on Tuesday, and Fashion Show on Wednesday. They were all really great opportunities for us to get to know each other better and share our different cultures.

I wore Qipao, a traditional Chinese dress, representing China as a model during the Fashion show. Actually, this was my first time to wear it and high-heel shoes as well in my life. I'm very happy and proud about getting this chance, and I wait to experience more in the near future.

By the Way, as we also have many international students in Yantai University, why don't we also hold these similar activities on campus?? Mmmh, I'll think about that…

Spring Break I-Disney Trip

Just like a dream, I finally went to the Disneyland, the biggest Disney world in the world! It's too hard to summary my two-day experience there~ in a word-"fun", in two words-"very fun", in three words "lots of fun", in more words-"soooooooooooooo much fun"!!!!!

We went to three theme parks in all-Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom and Epcot. All of the parks were very huge and busy. You could meet people in every level of age and with all kinds of skin & hair colors. We kept on walking, waiting for the lines and taking pictures all the time. Even this, we still missed some spots. The weather in those days was shiny but chilly, especially at night. I remember well that I was even too cold to say a word while waiting for the shuttle back to the hotel.

Besides sightseeing, we also experienced some big thrills. Strongly recommend everyone to have a try at "Space Mountain" in the Magic Kingdom and "Expedition Everest" in the Animal Kingdom. They were awesome! We did the latter twice. By the way, my favorite Nike-hat was blew away during that ride. It's a gift from my cousin, and I didn't expect the wind would be so strong. Anyway, at least I gained lots of fun. Another thing surprised me a lot was that nearly all the souvenirs in Disney were made in China. I had no idea I should be glad or sad.

Disney is never just for the kids; at least it can make you back to childhood again. As its slogan goes, it's a place where your dreams come true.

Spring Break II-Universal Trip

We went to Universal-a group of huge fun parks in Orlando in the third day-a day full of fun and challenges.

In "Island of Adventure", we tried the "Hulk" dive coaster-top 5 in America -twice, free fall- twice, Jurassic park river adventure- twice, another cool dive coaster- twice, etc. For the first ride, the most famous one, we were waiting for more than half an hour in order to experience the less-than-two-minute heart-pounding. After the "free fall", I realized that do not choose to jump out of window if you want to end your life. During the river adventure, I got totally wet, from my hair to my shoes-cool~ In " the amazing adventures of spider-man", I wore a pair of special glasses and saw a amazing 4-D world with spider-man, In "dueling Dragons"-a double coaster, I was finally addicted to the feeling of twisting and turning. At last I screamed so much that I lost my voice in the end of that day.

In "Universal Studios", I watched more 4-D shows and took lots of interesting trips that happened in the movies. I experienced the earthquake, the car crash, the hurricane, and the shark attack. I was always wondering how men could build up so real environments -wonderful!

One problem was that because of the limited time, we have to skip lots of fun places-it's really very pity-I missed the" Revenge of the Mummy" and "E.T. Adventure" And my camera storage was so easy to get full. I had to delete the bad old pictures while taking the new ones. I've only taken 800 hundreds pictures in those three days-it not enough at all-there were so many things let you to press the camera button automatically. I tried to keep them in my mind as well-the only way I could comfort myself after I couldn't add any more into my camera. That's OK. Nothing is perfect. In that way I can cherish more what I have had already.

Just heard "Bush Gardens" in Tampa has the America's first roller coaster. Looking forward to it a lot~~~~~~~~

Today is the last day of the spring break. Goodbye, my fun days, see you next time!

My first times

America is awesome, full of freshness and challenges to me. During nearly two months, I've experienced many "first time" s here in my whole life:

-First flight
-First time to go abroad
-First time to use visa card
-First time to play monopoly
-First party
-First dance
-First beer
-First vodka
-First whiskey
-First wine
-First cigar (two bites)
-First potluck
-First pizza
-First muffin
-First slurpee
-First vodka jell-o
-First "skydiving"
-First time to use knife & fork
-First time to know facebook
-First time to play beer pang
-First time to go to a bar
-First time to pay tips
-First time to use dishwasher
-First time to use oven to bake cookies
-First time to go to the gym
-First time to learn German& French
-First volunteer experience
-First time to lie on the beach
-First time to go to "star bucks"
-First pair of high-heel shoes
-First time to watch "Oscar awards ceremony" on TV






I know there're still many other first times waiting for me, and I'm looking forward to it!!

Happy Chinese New Year!!!

Best wishes to my dear family, friends and teachers ~I miss you all!!! A new year, a new start!!!

Yesterday, on Chinese New Year's Eve, we joined a big Chinese Party held in the Ballroom of Student Union. I met Dan and Jia again and other Chinese people and their families live Southwest Florida.

I was lucky to get an interview by Bonita News, talking about this most important festival in Chinese's hearts. This was my first time to be able to see so many Chinese and eat so many delicious foods after arriving here. They made this day very meaningful to me.

Tonight, there's another party for Chinese New Year which was held at Commons of North Lake Village. My roommates Ysa and other RAs organized this activity and invited many students live around here.

It was so much fun. We had Chinese foods, Chinese music, Chinese stories and Chinese games. I answered some questions referring to Chinese New Year, such as "What is Year of Pig", "Why do Chinese usually like eating fish and wearing red during this festival", and "What does Dragon stand for". I also gave students their Chinese names, which all were in Chinese Characters.

This is my first time that have Chinese New Year without my family and especially, abroad. As a famous Chinese saying goes," As a person who is far away from home, you will miss your family much more when a festival comes." It happened to me today. I understand this feeling, but I still feel very happy, since I could spend today with so many friends and share Chinese culture with them.

Fried Dumplings

I made a dish for international pot luck held at Commons yesterday. To my surprised, it's very popular and firstly to eat out. Today, I posted some pictures onto the Facebook showing how to make fried dumplings. To my surprised again, many friends were very interested about it and said they'd like to make a try someday.

I know people here don't avoid (or maybe like) Chinese food. I really want to introduce them more Chinese dishes such as hot pot and so on, but it's just hard to make as lack of necessary equipment. Maybe one day, I'll open a Chinese restaurant here and let more Americans to have a real taste. Who knows~

Too Much To Say

Haha, I'm feeling so great now, since I just finished all these days' exams. Thank goodness, I passed the Business Law! If I didn't have the tough writing homework this weekend, I would feel even much better, and then I could pay my full attention to the coming Chinese New Year! Wooow, is Spring Festival really coming soon?! Oh, that's true, for sure, but it is pity there's not much atmosphere here. Well, at least I can feel it in my heart. I miss Jiaozi, I miss Huntun, I miss Tangyuan, I miss peanuts! I miss playing cards with family and watching TV together. I miss the sounds of firecracker~ Anyway, I'll join a Chinese New Year party on Saturday, loooool! Look forward to it, a lot.

Ate lots of chocolates, cookies, candies yesterday (Valentine's Day), sweet~


My dear business law,
You are mystical. With a whole month already passed by, I still can't understand you! Every tiny single word in the textbook is new & strange & complex. I tried to look up all of you one by one in the dictionary with aaaaaaall my patience. However, most of the time, I failed. I couldn't find the corresponding Chinese meanings. About the English explanations, my god, they were no different from groups of messy letters.

My dear business law,
You are magical. You made every class a nightmare to me. The instructor talks too fast to follow. Moreover, he has strong accents. I just saw he walked back and forth, his arms went up and down, his lips kept open and close; I just heard some full-of-passion-voices echoing around us, for which the speed was no less than the speed of light. When he was explaining the legal jargons, I couldn't understand; when he was showing us examples, I couldn't understand; when he was making jokes, I couldn't understand! I was just sitting there like a helpless kid, full of confusion and frustration.

My dear business law,
You are powerful. As long as I think of you, I just feel a hard squeezing pressure in my chest, which let me hard to take breathes. I feel headaches, I feel depressed, I feel desperate! Even when I was once busy preparing for the college entrance examinations, even when I was solving tens of thousands of math, physics, chemistry problems, I've never experienced this kind level of upset feelings. You're amazing. You're awesome. You've almost driven me crazy!!! Do you know how much I hate you, I hate you, and I hate you??????!!!!!!! @!$&*%$#&%$@$#*&^*&@*$!~$#$$%^*#@(&%@

Anyway, my friend, even you've challenged me so much so far, I won't give you up so quickly and so easily. I'll try other ways to read you, and I won't let you ruin my wonderful daily life here ANY MORE.I believe soon I'll finally handle you. WAIT FOR ME.

Chinese Dinner and International Party

Yesterday afternoon, I invited some friends to my dorm for a Chinese dinner. The cookers ( flat-bottomed pans) here are a little different from what I used at home, so it took me nearly 2 hours to prepare for it. I still remember that few days ago, because of too much smoke while I was cooking at the kitchen, the dorm fire alarm rang suddenly. Therefore, I was quite careful about it this time.

I made four classic Chinese dishes in all, which I had never tried after coming here. "They tasted really good", my friends told me, and I was just happy. (Still feel kind of stupid that I washed all the bowls and plates by myself at last, since I totally forgot I could use the dishwasher~)

After dinner, we went to a big party. There were lots of people there. I met many new friends as well as some old faces. It seems all the people there were good drinkers and dancers, except me. I don't like the taste of any alcohol and I don't how to dance either.

As a result, besides chatting, I was "forced" to drink, to dance, and to smoke by my dear enthusiastic friends. I danced a little bit, and I had my first bottle of beer and first bite of cigar. This was kind of another first step I took today. I'll try to experience more in the future, but I know I have to keep my bottom-line in my mind. Anyway, it was lots of fun. We came back late and I was just too excited to get asleep.

New Semester, New Experience

As kind of dream walking, I've finished my first-week-classes--overwhelming and challenging.

Actually, the courses here are much less than what I had back home (only four). And, the class size is pretty small, less than 40 people. (I've been used to having classes with other 200 students together in a big classroom.) Students all put their schoolbags on the floor, which surprised me a little bit. (Chinese students use desk drawers to hold bag and books.)

The class atmosphere here is much livelier than what I've experienced in Yantai. Students seem have more rights and freedom. Then can lean against their chairs, chew gums, answer phone calls, ask questions (even off topic) and get in and out of classroom as they want. So, I have to admit that the instructors here are all VERY patient and tolerant.

It's not quite hard to follow these classes except Business Law. It's a really tough one, since the instructor speaks extremely fast and has strong accents. Well, I don't want to find any more excuses. I appreciate this good opportunity to practice my listening skills and understanding ability. It's just a start, and, I believe it'll be fine.

Life with Nature

Florida is such a wonderful winter resort. The heavy snow storm in Yantai seems just happen yesterday in our mind, but now we all feel as jumping into summer directly.

The sun spreads its brightness and power onto the earth generously. Everything seems vibrant. The sky looks so blue and clear that just like a huge diamond.

Several pieces of cloud are hanging in the air softly and casually. You can see the eagles fly over the head from time to time. Most plants here are thinner and taller. With the breeze, their green leaves sway back and forth at will. My dorm is located beside a lake. I'd like to take a stroll on the beach, kicking the little peddles, listening to the sound of the waves and looking at people swimming and surfing in the water. I just feel I'm getting rid of the busy life and gaining a feeling of calm in my heart.

Most buildings here are with green roofs and white walls. They are all very low (layer = 4), which is out of my imagination. There are few people I can see on campus, since nearly every people owns a car here. I don't have one yet, and I don't want to get one. I believe my legs, haha.

I didn't expect I could see so many wild animals here. I saw rabbits on the grass, deer inside the brush, squirrels on the branches, raccoons in the trash can, water birds beside the lake and frogs on the wall. Hope one day I can see an alligator as well, I mean, from far away.

A Long Journey

After around 20 hours, two flight connections, we finally arrived at airport of Fort Myers, on the New Year's Eve. The earth is really a very interesting creature. It was snowy badly in Beijing when we were on board, but here, I just could say-it's hot-much hotter than what we expected before, so we were all surprised but happy about that.

Dan and his wife, Jia (a very nice Chinese lady) and their five-year-old son picked us up. They were the first group of people we met in America. Their enthusiasm and care let us feel like coming back home. We bought some food and a telephone card in a supermarket and then went to a hotel. The hotel is pretty nice. We looked around and around, called our families back home and then got onto the internet. We knew it's quite late and we must be very tired, but we were just too excited and nearly ignored everything.

After too much effort, we are here right now. "No pain, no gain." That's true. Looking at the beautiful fireworks in the sky through out of the window, we know a new year with a new life is coming.


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