For some M.S. Economics & Computation (MSEC) students, their first semester in the program looked much different than they expected. Because of travel and visa restrictions, several students completed their first semester of the program from China. Zixuan Zheng was one of these students. However, last week he was finally able to meet several of his fellow classmates--Zhichao Wang, Xiaoxi Lyu, and Kaichao Chang--in person, and share the struggles and triumphs of the unusual semester.
“To be honest, we struggled this semester,” Zhang said. “After discussion, we concluded that it is probably because we cannot have a chance to gather once a week like today to connect with each other face to face. A warm hug can never be replaced by Zoom meetings.” Despite the challenges, Zhang said that professor Charlie Becker, one of the co-directors of the program, has been vital to making sure he and his classmates feel connected and supported, even from a distance. Zhang credits the flexibility of the program and accessibility of faculty for helping him get through this semester.
Over hotpot and drinks, the students shared stories of their semester, talked about family, and their plans for the future. While the immediate future is still uncertain for this group of students, they are all thankful for being able to come together in China. “We have developed a really strong friendship because of the special circumstances this year,” said Zhang. “It was the first time that we met, but we are already very close friends.”