By Campbell Fauber
Recently, the Threads: React team has been in touch with some of SoHE’s international students to learn more about their experiences studying at UW-Madison. We sent out a survey and received answers to a handful of open-ended questions relating to their major, design work, life as an international student, and what they are doing to adapt to life during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our next response came from Lingdi Zhao, a current SoHe Textiles & Fashion Design (TFD) junior from China.
How long have you been studying at UW?
What made you want to come to the U.S. as a foreign exchange student?
I want to explore more possibilities of my life by living my life in new countries and experiencing new cultures. In the meantime, this helps me understand the diversity of the world and expand my horizon, which, I think, is indispensable for designers to generate ideas and inspirations. So I decided to travel half of the world to the United States and get an education.
What was the most surprising to you once you got here?
To be honest, during my first year in the United States, I experienced a lot of culture shock. But it is because of this culture shock that I am more surprised by people’s patience and kindness. Although I didn’t have a good command of English as a freshman, I was accepted by most people and didn’t feel discriminated against or uncomfortable in communication. With the warmth, friendship, hospitality, and help that I have received, I have adapted to society as smooth as I could have wished and felt a connection to society.
What do you miss most from back home?
My friends and families in China. The experience of studying abroad makes me cherish the time with my family more.
How has it been coping with all of the current events while so far from home?
Although far away from home, the friends around me can still bring me warmth. The bonds between people have given me the courage to help me get through this hard time. But I also consider the latest events as an opportunity for solitude and self-reflection. Spending the whole summer in my apartment is also a process of self-improvement.
Tell us about your design work. What is it like? What inspires you?
The beauty of life inspires me. In my opinion, art is used to depict the beauty of life and provide people with energy and a positive attitude towards life. So my inspirations are basically related to things that remind people of happy memories, like nature, cream cakes, childhood.
If you could wave a magic wand and have your wildest dream come true, what would you be doing in 5 years?
After graduation, I want to intern in a fashion company in a big city to accumulate some experience. Since I enjoy the process of designing and making things on my own, I probably will start my own business in the future, so that I can also have the flexibility to travel while having a stable job.
Interested in seeing more of Lingdi’s design work? Check out photos of her designs below. Some were even featured in this year’s Threads: React Virtual Design and Fashion Runway event.