Westlakers Chat Around the World at Global Hangout

Jocelyn Eikenburg
21, 2022

Phone: +86-(0)571-86886861
Office of Public Affairs

Undergraduates as well as international faculty and staff mingled for a relaxing evening of casual conversations over coffee, tea and snacks during the Westlake Global Hangout on Sept. 15.

Organized by the Office of International Affairs at Westlake University, the event aimed to create a cozy space for people to chat, exchange stories of studying or working abroad, and forge new connections across cultures.

“One of the most rewarding experiences when living abroad is being able to develop close friendships with people from all over the world,” said Kristina Gogova, who works in international admissions at Westlake. She kicked off the gathering with a friendly talk about her previous experiences as a Beijing Language and Culture University international student, from initial culture shock to her successful commencement years later after completing two degrees there. Her tips for students hoping to get the most out of their study abroad experience included "observe, listen and try to be objective” and “interact with diverse groups of people”.

Derek Meyer, international affairs coordinator at Westlake, turned the discussion to more practical matters when he asked, “Do you know how many study abroad programs Westlake University offers?” He briefly introduced the 19 overseas universities that have partnered with Westlake, from UC Berkeley to Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and showed students where they could find the specific requirements for each study abroad program on the Westlake University website.

Gregory Travis, associate professor of English at Westlake, told stories from his days as an international student in the United Kingdom, where he was enthralled to meet people who “spoke just like Dylan Thomas” and lived in places associated with his favorite British authors, such as Jane Austen. He advised rooming together with locals, as he did, and embracing every opportunity to travel.

Others at Westlake shared more international experiences, such as being the only Chinese in a small town in rural America, coming to China at the age of 17 for a language course and staying to complete undergraduate and graduate studies, and discovering the delicious pleasure of trying new foods as a student in Beijing.

An undergraduate who attended the Westlake Global Hangout called it an “amazing time”, adding “I didn’t realize we had such an international community here at Westlake.” He said the event made him feel even more excited about studying abroad.

Gogova, who helped organize the Westlake Global Hangout, said she hopes to continue doing similar events in the future as a new international tradition at Westlake.