Aijia Duanmu, Class of 2018
Hometown: Beijing, China
Major: French Studies
Started in Academic English Studies: fall, 2013
Where is your hometown?
How did you hear about Lewis & Clark?
My high school was an international high school. Although, I went to a normal Chinese middle school, my mom thought a U.S. education would be better for me, and chose an international school named Luhe Academy. My college counselor at Luhe Academy suggested I apply to Lewis & Clark.
Why did you decide to study here?
The TOEFL score is very high, and I think that Lewis & Clark requires students to have good English. It challenged me a lot at that time. It was important to me to find a good school where I could improve my English.
Also, LC is located in Portland. Portland is a very safe city, and LC is a quiet place to study.
What is your major? Did you choose this before you came to LC or after? Tell me about that decision.
French Studies. I had no idea that I wanted to study French until I came here. I took AES courses in my first semester, and then transitioned to undergraduate courses. During my first semester, I took several languages, but ultimately decided on French.
What has life been like at Lewis & Clark and Portland?
I lived on campus, and loved campus life. Lewis & Clark is a big family and you are never alone. We had community activities and it’s easy to make friends. I love downtown Portland, and loved shopping with friends too. People in Portland are really nice and always say hello. I don’t feel like a foreigner, and I feel really comfortable here.
What are some of your favorite experiences and memories?
When I studied abroad in France with other Lewis & Clark students. I like exploring the country with other Lewis & Clark students I wouldn’t have normally met on campus.
Also, I loved office hours. Meeting with professors helped me practice my English skills while getting help with homework and projects. I became friends with my professors and they were really nice, and willing to help me.
What is an academic accomplishment that you are most proud of?
In my last semester, I did a final French project. I worked the whole night, and my professor told me it was wonderful. She also wanted my permission to share the work with other professors. In the beginning, I wasn’t very confident with my French, but with help, I was able to make it through the program.
What is a personal, non-academic accomplishment or experience that will be a good memory for you?
Studying abroad in France is a good memory. It was at a university, and I lived with a host family. I met a lot of people and focused on how to communicate with French people.
What does Lewis & Clark mean to you now that you are graduating?
Lewis & Clark is my home, and I can get support anytime, even if I graduated. It challenged me when I studied there, but I got so much power and love from Lewis & Clark, and it’s unique.
What is next for you?
I am currently working with kids at a French Immersion Academy. This year, I am doing my Optional Practical Training (OPT). I hope to get a full time job after the year, otherwise I will go back to Beijing. I hope to be either an English teacher or French teach for kindergarteners.
How do you think your experience at Lewis & Clark has prepared you for what is next?
It made me stronger, and I feel like as a person I need to challenge myself. That is the core thing that Lewis & Clark taught me. I have confidence, and Lewis & Clark gave me that confidence.
How did your time in AES classes help prepare you for being a student at Lewis & Clark?
I think AES part is very necessary for international students. AES teachers are very strict, and undergrad courses are easier to handle after taking AES classes. After taking AES classes, communication became easier. Without good communication, it’s very hard to handle the work.
What advice would you have for a student from your country who is considering studying at Lewis & Clark?
I would suggest that students take AES courses, and based on my experience, I found my friends that took AES classes had better preparation for undergraduate classes.
How would you explain a liberal arts education?
In Liberal Arts, you need to take a diversity of courses. I couldn’t just take French, I took biology, econ, and all added together they are liberal arts.