Guanyu Jiang: UMaine’s ‘vitality’ enriches international student experience 

Harbin, China is a world away from Orono. In spite of the distance and the obvious differences between his Northern China birthplace and his current home at the University of Maine, Guanyu Jiang appreciates the similarities.

“The dimensions of my hometown are almost the same as Maine. The climate, vegetation, and scenery are all similar,” says Guanyu, who enjoys Maine’s rural character. “Compared to the city, I prefer to live in nature.” 

But before enrolling at the University of Maine, Guanyu also considered first-hand reports about the campus, the culture and the academic atmosphere. A high school teacher in China recommended UMaine to him after spending a year as a Black Bear through an international exchange program. Guanyu took his mentor’s advice to heart, and couldn’t be happier with his choice. 

“Every time I walk on campus I see many passersby smiling. Professors, students and staff all love what they do, and are full of motivation,” he says. “Sometimes I think the University of Maine is more like a vibrant amusement park than an academic research institution.”

Guanyu enrolled in the Intensive English Institute (IEI) when he arrived on campus in summer 2016, focusing exclusively on enhancing his English skills. A little more than a year later, he joined IEI’s Maine Bridge Program and began accumulating credits toward a degree while continuing to develop proficiencies in English. In spring 2018, he matriculated in the International Affairs program with a minor in philosophy. 

During his time at UMaine, Guanyu has excelled academically, receiving the merit-based International Flagship and Roger D. Cooper Scholarships from the Office of International Programs (OIP) and the School of Economics, respectively, and was a Dean’s List student. In addition, Guanyu was invited to join Phi Sigma Tau, the international honor society for philosophers. 

“The academic atmosphere (at UMaine) is great, especially the time professors spend with undergraduates” he says, citing faculty patience and willingness to help, along with other critical resources such as the writing center, tutors, student recitation sessions, and even his fellow students. “Many classes require group work, and classmates share opinions with each other and are willing to help each other with the work.”

But Guanyu reserves the highest praise for OIP. 

“OIP is the best. UMaine OIP is always open to international students. The staff in OIP are very patient and willing to help,” he says. “Moreover, there are many international student organizations and many activities which enrich international students’ lives.”

After completing his undergraduate degree this month, Guanyu will pursue a master’s degree in applied economics at Johns Hopkins University, confident that his time at UMaine has prepared him well for graduate studies. 

“The theoretical knowledge I have gained at UMaine gives me a solid foundation for my master’s classes, and I have also developed a good learning style and studying abilities.”

Thinking beyond his academic accomplishments, Guanyu is certain that his undergraduate experience has prepared him to integrate into American society.

“The University of Maine made me become an independent person. I know more clearly what I want, and what things are important to me.” 

Contact: Joan Perkins;