Beyond the Borders: You Lin

After living in the United States for 15 years, sophomore biology major You Lin said he still looks back fondly on the childhood he spent in the Fujian province of China.

Lin spent the first five years of his life in the Chinese countryside near the city of Fuzhou. His family came to the U.S. for several reasons including opportunities for a better education, a higher standard of living and, with Lin as the second child, the ability to live without the burden of the one-child policy of China. Lin's family eventually settled in Seneca Falls, N.Y., where his family opened a restaurant called Lin's Kitchen.

Lin still returns to China periodically for short visits. He said he finds it humorous that whenever he visits China he is seen as an American, while in the U.S. many people identify him as Chinese.

One of the things that stands out the most to him about his home country is the diversity. "If you visit one of the urban areas of China you will see a lot of modernization," Lin said, "but in a 15-minute drive you could be surrounded by ancient Chinese architecture."

Lin also misses the diversity of the food in China. "Each province has its own specialty and it is fun trying all the different types of food," he explained.

The experience one may have of China is relative to perception. "A lot of tourists aren't getting the full cultural experience when they visit China," he said. "In recent years, they've been modernizing more and in urban areas; you can find a lot of the same restaurants and businesses we have here in the United States." He added, "They have huge three-story buildings dedicated to fast-food restaurants, but the countryside is where you can experience a traditional cultural background."

Lin believes that his life here as a student in the U.S. is much different than a student's life would be in China. "Diligence and hard work are what Chinese tradition is built on and students in China will study all day long," he said. A Chinese student would not have much free time because their entire focus is their education.

Lin remembered a visit to the Great Wall of China and emphasized that it was not only a structure of great historical and cultural importance, but that it was a representation of what the Chinese are really like. "You get on top of this endless structure and you can see for miles," he said. "You get a sense of the pure labor and dedication that represent China." Lin plans to return to China many times in the future, perhaps even for an extended vacation.