November 2019: International Magic with Vincent Shen

Get to know Vincent Shen, a CAP student and music, magic and literature enthusiast who starts his college career at Temple in the spring.

NAME: Zenan “Vincent” Shen
HOMETOWN: Taiyuan, China
PROGRAM: Conditional Admission Program (CAP)

TCALC: What’s it like in Taiyuan?

VINCENT: I call it the Chinese version of Ohio. It’s kind of an industrial place with a lot of mountains. It’s a medium-sized city with about 3.4 million people.

TCALC: Why did you come Temple?

VINCENT: I went to a public school in Boston through my sophomore year of high school, then transferred to a private school in New Hampshire. When I was in my senior year, I went to a college fair and met a Temple University representative. We had a great talk and I love the location of Temple in North Philly. I love the history of Philadelphia.

TCALC: What made you want to continue improving your English once you got to college?

VINCENT: I really love American literature and history. My favorite is the Great Gatsby! It is absolutely awesome. 

The artsy side of Vincent.

TCALC: What was your first impression of the U.S. when you came here?

VINCENT: When I first came here, it was almost 5 years ago. When I was in Boston, people said hello to each other on the streets and in the airport. In China, our population is too big for greetings on the streets. But in Boston, when everyone looked at me, smiled at me, or even waved their hand at me, I felt pretty good. I also thought,  “Wow, I have never seen so many people of so much diversity.” I could really feel the melting pot of society with people of different races and religions. It was awesome.

TCALC: How do you think the Conditional Admission Program (CAP) helped you to improve your English?

VINCENT: CAP really helped me a lot, especially with my reading and writing. That’s why I wanted to take advantage of becoming a student blogger for StudyUSA.

(Vincent was recently chosen to be a regular student blogger representing TCALC for Study in the USA.)

TCALC: Is there anything you struggled with when you first came here that you’ve overcome?

VINCENT: The first time I came here, I didn’t really like the food. Now, sometimes I like certain American food more than Chinese food. My favorite is mac n’ cheese. It is making me hungry now!

TCALC: What is your favorite Chinese meal?

VINCENT: Steamed dumplings. My grandfather is a really good chef and used to make them for me, so sometimes when I eat dumplings I get homesick.

Looks like home!

TCALC: If I had 24 hours to spend in China, what would you tell me to see or do?

VINCENT: I recommend that you see a CBA basketball game. My team is the Shanxi Loongs (meaning lions).

TCALC: What is your favorite thing that you’ve seen or done in the U.S. so far?

VINCENT: I’m a big traveler - I’ve been to almost 30 states out of 50. When I was in New Hampshire, I really loved the mountains and trees in the fall - the yellow and red colors are absolutely gorgeous. In Chicago, I loved how the buildings are mostly made of glass. I like Philadelphia because I’m a big fan of jazz and ragtime music, and I love the jazz cafes in the city. There are really gorgeous murals here, too.

A view for contemplation. Probably thinking about jazz!

TCALC: What are some of your favorite places on campus?

VINCENT: University Village, where I live. It’s great because there is a 24-hour gym and game room, plus it’s very convenient. My roommate is Dutch. Living with him was new for me because it’s a totally different culture, but he’s my best friend at Temple. He also gave me a lot of Dutch cookies and candies that I never tried before. I will miss him when he finishes his program in December. 

TCALC: How do you think Temple has helped you to meet different types of students?

VINCENT: The Global Gala was just recently and I performed magic tricks there. Everyone was laughing and clapping, and I really appreciated it.

Vincent performing at this year's Global Gala.

TCALC: How did you learn to do magic?

VINCENT: When I first came here, my English prevented me from meeting people and it was isolating. One day I realized that if I don’t practice my English, it will be hard to make friends while I was here. So I tried to figure out a way that I could connect with people. I realized that learning magic tricks was a great way to make more friends. Now with every performance, I get better and better, and people are more surprised.

TCALC: If you could give advice to other students who are coming to study in the U.S., what would you tell them?

VINCENT: Make friends. I went through a hard time at first, but now I can talk with more people. Then you can get more confidence with your English and more opportunity to talk. Never be afraid to take that first step to try new things.