Q&A with APRIL ZHENG
Where are you from? I am from Fuzhou, a mid-sized coastal city in the southeast part of China.
What prompted you to participate in VCPP? I had never been to the U.S. before when I found out that I was admitted into William & Mary through the early decision program.
I was both excited and nervous. I wished I could have someone to talk to before I arrived, so I would feel more oriented. When I got the information about VCPP from the Reves Center, I was excited for what it could offer so I signed up for it immediately. And my experience actually turned out better than I would ever expected.
Who was your partner? I was partnered with Conor O’Donnell ’15, an International Relations and Environmental Policy double major. He is from Richmond, VA and was a rising sophomore when we first connected with each other.
What kinds of interaction/ conversations did you have? We started to Skype right away when we were paired up and the virtual conversation continued regularly until the week before I departed for the U.S. I remembered that was the summer when Conor just finished taking a 100-level Chinese class, so he was showing me all the phrases and characters he learned from his Chinese class. I told him how I learned English and why I decided to study in the U.S. We also talked about the places we have traveled and the places we wanted to go the most. Those conversations about cultures and languages were most fun and memorable.
He also told me about life at W&M, which was most helpful to me as an incoming freshman. He taught me how to look up for classes, how to quickly register for them (it did help a lot!) and where to buy cheap textbooks, etc. He told me about all the fun things at W&M and Williamsburg. He really got me excited and ready for a totally new experience. The most useful thing he told me was probably to buy a pair of rain boots the first day I arrive.
Did you find it helpful? How? It was and it was even beyond that. I got to practice my English naturally and already knew a lot about what to expect at W&M way earlier before I arrived. I definitely felt more confident with the extra knowledge Conor told me about and I still ask for his help or suggestion when I encounter something difficult at W&M. It was just enjoyable to chat with someone humorous like Conor. I have had a lot of fun.
Did you continue your friendship with your partner after you arrived at W&M? Yes, we have become really good friends for almost three years now. Conor picked me up at the Richmond Airport when I first arrived and drove me to school. He helped me move in and even took me for grocery shopping. And he still jokes about how I looked exhausted and was often zoned-out on that day because of the jet leg. Conor continued to help me after I arrived at W&M. He gave me ideas on where to go for breaks. He introduced me to one of his professors who was looking for Chinese speakers and it became my first research job at W&M. I guess we are still good friends three years after the program because both of us reach out to one another when we feel we haven’t caught up for a while.
Conor is the nicest and most helpful person I met at William & Mary and I feel so lucky to know him through VCPP! I’d recommend every new international student to participate in VCPP because it is really worth it and fun!