A language is closely connected to the culture it lives in. This was Yang’s first discovery when she came to the United States to start a new life. Although having received years of systematic English education at schools in China, Yang soon realized there was a striking difference between the classroom English she learned and how Americans use it in their everyday lives. Among all the challenges she faced, picking up American culture has been one of the hardest.

Yang moved to the United States from China two years ago. She earned her PhD in mathematics in China, after which she worked at a bank’s headquarter in Beijing. When her husband landed a position as an Assistant Professor at Penn State, they decided to pursue new opportunities and experience a different life in a different country. State College was her first home in the United States. To improve her English, she spent most of her time reading books in Pattee Library or watching TV shows at home. It was hard to find opportunities to practice, not to mention to learn the culture. After one year of learning by herself, Yang felt that the progress she had made was far below her expectation. Upon the recommendation of a friend, she joined Mid-State this spring semester.

After taking tutoring sessions several times, the pandemic began. Yang was appreciative of Mid-State for adjusting so quickly to adapt to the situation and making an effort to offer many courses online this summer. Attending tutoring and classes added various dimensions to her study. It broadened and strengthened her understanding of American culture in addition to helping her improve her English. Yang was also impressed by the instructors’ strong work ethics and grateful for the friendship with her classmates.

Yang has learned a lot this year with Mid-State. However, language learning is a long process. Combined with the pandemic, she does feel frustrated sometimes. She had the pleasure of sharing feelings freely in the welcoming environment with her instructors and classmates, and in turn, she enjoyed their stories and wisdom. As one respected instructor who inspired her often has said, the most important thing is to believe in yourself. Furthermore, persistence and practice are the essential ways to learn and establish confidence. She’s eager to recommend the program for anyone wanting to immerse more deeply in American ways and the language all around them.

By Yang Xu and Sara Yi

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