In this edition of International Humans of Brown, Arrya (Fuyuan) Luo sat down to with Lily Zhao ’18 to share her experiences at Brown, thoughts on adjustments to American culture, and more. Read on to find out what she thinks of life in a small city like Providence, what she wish she knew as a freshman, and the least depressing place to study for finals!
Name? Where are you from? What is your concentration?
My name is Fuyuan but I go by Arrya. I was born in Chengdu, Sichuan, China. I’m double concentrating in IR and Econ.
What languages do you speak?
I can speak Chinese and English, and I’m starting to learn Korean and Japanese.
At the same time?
At the same time, because I watch variety shows. **laughs** And if Sichuan 话 (Sichuan dialect) counts I speak Sichuan 话.
What student groups have you been involved in at Brown?
I tried a lot of student groups in my freshman year like BJWA, ChinaCare … wait I forget a lot of them but I went to their meetings a lot but then in sophomore year I decided to concentrate in Brown China Summit and Strait Talk, so those are the two main ones.
Could you tell us a bit about what your roles are within Strait Talk and Brown China Summit?
For Brown China Summit, basically I think I worked from the Operations Director to the Head of Speakers. So it’s like in the core committee you design the panels and figure out who to invite to the summit. For Strait Talk, I worked on the delegations team to come up with marketing strategies for Strait Talk and also to screen the applicants.
What do you think are some of your best memories from these clubs?
I feel like I don’t have like a most wonderful memory but it’s just a continuous experience of them, it’s all very happy. I get to meet people, different people, hear what they want, yeah it’s just the whole experience makes me very happy.
Why did you decide to study in the US?
I went to Brown summer school when I was in high school, accidentally, just for fun. I took a comparative literature class called Good Evil and in between, and also American Presidency. That’s where I found that I really love the openness and inclusiveness of Brown so I was like maybe I should give it a shot and stay here for four years to see what this place can offer. That’s when I decided.
How have your four years here been different from what you have expected?
Not that different, so I guess that’s a good thing. But if I were to live these four years again, I would not double concentrate. I think I would only concentrate in Econ instead of IR. I think I would just concentrate in Econ, but take more classes in IR and also religious studies because I feel like I’ve wasted a lot of opportunities to take interesting in classes and also to plan my life through I guess, but it’s not a bad thing. I just wish I can be more…that I can think ahead more.
What did you find to be the most difficult to get used to?
I think it’s the American culture. I don’t know, I remember freshman year I always have to be very hyper and energetic, because that’s just how everybody around me is. But sometimes when I feel tired, I still have to do that, so I guess that’s a thing. Besides that, I feel like eventually my closest friends are almost all Asian, so it’s like I’m more comfortable staying in a culture so I stay with the culture, like not trying too hard to really blend into the white culture. 因为我感觉最舒服的就是跟自己同类似的人呆在一起 (because I feel like the most comfortable thing is to spend time with people who are similar to myself)，like for me.
I think that’s a very common phenomenon, through all the schools across the US. Do you think that’s a bad thing, good thing? Do you have an opinion on that?
我觉得其实还好吧 (I think it’s not bad)，because it’s not like we don’t socialize with other people. It’s just we choose to 把最comfortable的space留给自己相同的人吧 (we choose to reserve our own most comfortable space for those who we share the most with)。
What food/dish do you miss from home?
**big sigh** Hot pot, hot pot. Oh my god, I’m dying to eat spicy food every day. 我们家有好多瓶辣椒酱，就每次吃饭的时候就吃辣椒酱 (we have so many bottles of spicy sauce in our home, every time we eat a meal we eat spicy), it’s just spicy food and hot pot.
What is an Americanism you have picked up in the past four years?
I think it’s a phrase “have a good day” or “have a good one”, because I feel like people use it a lot. Like if you order coffee and whatever, basically if you do anything, people can say that to you. 感觉国内就没有很多人会说。。。祝你拥有美好的一天？(It feels not a lot of people in China would really say…“I wish you would have a wonderful day”?)
What do you wish you knew as an incoming freshman?
Oh, okay. Hmm…I wish I knew a lot of things. I think the career options, well not that a freshman should consider that, but I think in the international students orientation, like I wish the school could at least mention like the OPT/CPT.
I think freshmen should consider that. I actually have a lot of very strong opinions about this, but this is your interview **laughs** I really think Brown shouldn’t even just mention it, I think they should devote a substantial amount of time to explaining that at the international orientation.
I definitely agree. So what are some other things you wish you knew, other than that?
Hmm…oh, the Ratty sucks. It’s just the whole dining hall sucks. Get out of the meal plan as soon as possible. Maybe I would have wanted to train my cooking skills before coming to Brown.
BUDS will be so sad. (hahahahah…)
How has living here changed how you act/interact at home?
Well I think, not Brown, but Providence definitely has left something in me. Because I feel like Providence is a small town feeling compared to back home, 应为像成都这种一点五线城市都是很(because a 1.5 tier city like Chengdu is) very metropolitan compared to here. 我就觉得Providence这种small town feeling让我觉得我以后可能会在一个small town里面住下来，应为我现在就很。。。就makes me feel like就像那种老年人的生活。(I feel that the small town feel of Providence makes me feel like I might want to settle down in a small town in the future, because it makes me feel like…like I want to live the lifestyle of the elderly)
可是你现在离老年还很远！(But you are still so far from being elderly!)
Which is dangerous, because I don’t want to go through…like you really work hard and you need to strive for something. I just want to 养养花，种种草，每天晒晒太阳。(I just want to have some flowers and plants, and enjoy the sunlight everyday)
I could never do that. I’m like the opposite of that.
Yeah, I can imagine you being a workaholic.
I am. I’ve always been a workaholic. Providence just confirmed to me that I could never, ever live in a city that’s not like Beijing, Shanghai, New York, or Boston. I cannot even live in Guangzhou. I need like an internationally acclaimed metropolis.
New York is a little bit overwhelming to me.
What is one thing you are going to miss about Brown? Best memory?
I guess the people. 我感觉我以后可能 (I feel that in the future) I might never have the chance to be surrounded by so many bright people. People, definitely yes. I guess that’s it. I want to say the weather in summer, but then there’s the weather in the winter…
I think I’m going to pick the current one I am taking, the IR capstone seminar, on Russia, Europe, and Asia, the international relations between these three. I think the IR curriculum kind of builds you towards taking a senior seminar so you have like 一定的知识储备 and critical thinking to be actually involved in the discussion section and to contribute, so 我觉得这种(I feel that this kind of) interactive learning是挺好的 (is pretty good)。
Who teaches it?
Cook. Linda Cook from the Political Science department.
What is your favorite spot in Providence?
257, my home, my room, my bed. 我觉得257三个人一起住就把家里 (I feel like with 3 people living together in 257 we can) like make it very comfortable, and really like a home.
What about a public spot? Maybe like your favorite café? Or SciLi basement?
John Hay吧。The Reading Room，我觉的finals的时候过去就有一种不一样的感觉。(I think coming to the John Hay Reading Room during finals period, you get a very different feeling) Because the ceiling’s very high so you don’t feel like you are suffocated and depressed.
What is your favorite Blue Room muffin?
Kabob and Curry, and Wow BBQ.
Advice for younger students? Younger self?
其实我现在有些时候也在想如果我重新读一遍会给自己什么建议。我觉得终究还是need to stay positive, and work hard. 就是心态一定要健康。其他就没什么，好好生活吧。(Actually, I now often think about what advice I would give myself if I were to do college all over again. I think in the end, the important thing is to stay positive and work hard. One must have a healthy mindset. The other things are not as important, just try to live a good life).