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November 18, 2020

Friends and support can come in many places – even when you are more than 8,000 miles away from home and family. Studying abroad from China, Wenjie “Katniss” Lu has found a welcoming environment at Shawnee State University while pursuing a sports-related career.

Katniss is in her junior year of the Sports Management program at SSU. A student-athlete and coach in China, Katniss knew she didn’t want to pursue a career as a professional athlete but she did want to do something related to sports.

“I really like sports marketing and sports society,” she said. “These classes are really focused on the business side of sports and that is what attracted me to minor in Marketing.”

portrait of Wenjie “Katniss” Lu
SSU Sports Management student Wenjie “Katniss” Lu has found a welcoming environment in southern Ohio, 8,000 miles from her home and family in China.

Katniss always knew she wanted to study abroad. Her dad, a soccer coach in China, inspired her to study in America and to pursue a sports major.

“I wanted to broaden my horizon, experience a different culture, and be able to speak English better,” Katniss said. “My family supported me. They said that it would give me more opportunity for work.”

Her dad advised her to complete her first year of college in China before studying in America. During that first year, she saw that her college provided a study abroad program and SSU was one of eight schools participating in that opportunity.

“The Sports Management program was the main reason that I chose to go to Shawnee,” Katniss said. “Also, I saw that they had a swim team, so I wanted to experience what it was like being a student-athlete in America.”

Both professors and the small class sizes make SSU special to Katniss.

“In China, I went to a big college, and we had more than 9,000 students in one grade,” she said. “In each class we would have between 50 and 200 students. Shawnee has smaller class sizes. This means that the focus is way more personal. I feel really respected that the professor knows my name.”

Even enjoying her studies at SSU, Katniss found that studying abroad and being away from her family was not always easy.

“Sometimes I get really homesick,” Katniss admitted. “Especially the first year was really hard for me. I would see a video or photo of my family, which made me think about them and that would make me homesick. It is better now. We try to FaceTime at least once a week, and I got used to the feeling.”

Considering all the positives she found studying abroad, Katniss would strongly recommend anyone interested to try it out.

“It broadens your horizon, and you learn a lot from the world,” she said. “It is not only a great way to meet Americans and learn about their culture, but you also meet people from other countries and learn about those cultures.”

To learn more about opportunities through Shawnee State University for international programs and study abroad, visit