Welcome to my blog!

Hello! Thanks for visiting my blog! I am excited to share my new journey at Penn GSE with you! Please feel free to leave a comment. I look forward to connecting with you!

Here's a bit more info. of myself in addition to the profile:

I was born in Xi'an, and grew up in Guangzhou, China. I completed my undergraduate program at the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point, with a major in Communication and a minor in Spanish.

Prior to coming to Penn, I was working as an International Student Advisor and Marketing Representative at Wisconsin ESL Institute where I found my passion for international education. I am most interested in two specializations of the Higher Ed. field: International Admissions and International Student Services.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Summer's Greetings :)

Happy Summer, everyone! It's been quite a while since my last blog and I hope you are all doing well!Thank you for still reading my blog and for writing to me with questions and kind comments! I love hearing from you and learning about who you are as well. :)

Here are some updates on my life since my last blog:
- Graduated! :)
Still hard to believe that one year could go by THIS fast regardless of how much I had prepared myself mentally prior to the start. It was sad to see friends off after graduation but I definitely take comfort that I now have even more friends in different parts of the country / world.

Looking back, I am still very glad that I chose a one-year program even though it was very intense. It was a lot easier to see the light at the end of the tunnel during the times when I was feeling very exhausted. "We can do it" / "It's just one year" was something that my cohort typically said to encourage one another during the year. Now that all has been done, the sweet taste of our accomplishments is simply wonderful. It's all worth it.

Rested! :)
This is my first summer on the East Coast since I came to the U.S., and wow, it is hot! Totally reminded me of my home in Guangzhou, China. However, having lived in Wisconsin for several years, it is taking me some time to get used to such a weather again, but my husband is loving it!

It's definitely been a fun summer here because I finally got to do all the sight-seeing activities! So far, I've explored Philly, Atlantic City, New York, and D.C. with my husband and my parents this summer, and I am totally energized through enjoying all this "city stuff" (using my husband's term.) What's even better is that all of these places are now within short driving distance to us, compared to our plane rides from Wisconsin a couple years ago!

- Employed! :)
I just mailed out my official acceptance letter this morning! I will be starting my new job at Philadelphia University on August 5th. I couldn't be happier about how things worked out at each perfect timing and have been very grateful for all the wonderful people in my life who have supported me to get this far. That being said, I am also very inspired to do the same for any one of you during your decision-making processes on the selection of or application to graduate programs - If you have any specific questions for me, I'd be more than happy to answer them and share my experiences with you. My email is: xixi@alumni.upenn.edu

Finally, congratulations again to those who have started / will soon be starting the program at Penn GSE! Welcome to the big family! :) For those of you who are thinking about applying or in the process of your application, feel free to check out the Fall GSE Admissions Events here.

I wish you all the best in everything you do! Happy Summer!


Monday, May 6, 2013


Hi, everyone! Things got somewhat hectic for me over the past two weeks, so I apologize for not keeping you updated on what is going on in my life! However, as of 6:22p.m. today (Monday, May 6), I am officially done with all my responsibilities as a master's student in the Higher Education program here at Penn GSE!!! I can't believe this is it!!

At this very specific moment, things are still surreal to me. Other than being super excited and relieved that I have completed all the academic assignments, I don't really know how else I am feeling. Lots of emotions are swirling inside, but I need some time to calm down before being able to verbalize them and share with you.

My parents are already here (traveling all the way from China) waiting to attend my graduation ceremonies this coming Saturday and next Monday! My husband is more than thrilled at this point that I am done with all my papers and presentations, so that I can start spending some long lost quality time with him. And I am more than grateful to everyone who has given me support, encouragement, and love during this intense one year!

This is my last official post as a master's student in the program, but I will continue to use this space to share this past year's experience with you and let you know how everything is going with my job search.

Thank you all very much for reading my blog and sharing this journey with me! I have met many of you in person, and look forward to staying connected with you in other ways as well. Please feel free to email me at xixim@gse.upenn.edu

All the best to you with everything you do!


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Mix of Tasks

Before getting into what is going on in my life, I'd like to throw out another big congrats to all of you who have been accepted by Penn GSE and other schools of your choice! You are about to embark on another brand new journey with lots of opportunities for almost everything, and I sincerely wish you the best!

As for me, the time here as a master's student is running out. Regardless of how much I have tried to make the most of my time here during the past seven months, there is still so much more that I would like to do yet unsure about whether I will get a chance before moving onto the next chapter of my life.

In 25 days, I will finally be able to fulfill my whole family's dream of me getting a master's degree from Penn! I will also get to have some decent amount of sleep and rest, although usually when the opportunities come, I am somehow too hyper to actually do so. But the thought and potential count, I guess!

With the limited amount of time I have left, there is still much to be done! I have one group presentation and two individual presentations to finish by next week. I also have four papers of different length requirements to complete by the end of this month. My goal, however, is to get everything (at least a draft for everything) done by the end of this week so that I can devote more time in my job applications.

That said, the job hunting process has been going steadily, but I'd like to speed up the process on my end. I haven't got too much time to apply for too many jobs yet, but with what I have done and the responses I am getting, it is actually quite encouraging. I had an interview last week, and another one this week, and I am definitely going to apply for a couple more starred in my inbox. :) I have seen more and more positions advertised lately, so I am very excited to start applying.

@ the Masquerade Ball 
On the social life side, things are getting more and more exciting as well. We just had a GSE/Wharton Spring Formal Masquerade Ball. Starting in about 1.5 weeks, more and more graduation-related celebrations or events will also take place. That's one big motivation for me to get things done as soon as I can so that I can get into the celebration mood without worrying about completing my academic works!

On top of all the above, my parents are also coming from China in less than 20 days!!! Last time I saw them was a year ago, so I am very excited, and would like to get some summer planning started to get ready to host them.

Well, I will blog again soon! I should probably get back to finishing the paper I was working on so that I don't have to stay up too late tonight.

Until next time,
All the best!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Graduating next month?!

I don't even remember how many times I have blogged about how time flies, but it is truly how I have been feeling most of the time during this program. Time flies when you are having fun, and time flies when you are constantly busy with something...

Recently, Alexis and I have been working very hard to put together an entire day full of events for this Friday's Preview Day for Accepted Master's Students. One of the main reasons why I love my assistantship at the Admissions Office is the opportunity to connect with prospective students, accepted students, and students that are enrolled! It is always fun for me to share my perspectives and experiences, and always a joy to organize an event that can help students in one way or another.

That said, it is definitely a bittersweet time for me whenever I think about graduating next month. I am ready to be done with writing academic papers for a while, but I am not really ready to leave my assistantship, mainly because of the people that I have been working so closely with for these past eight months. My supervisor Alyssa, and everyone else have been treating Alexis and me as part of the professional team, and have been very supportive of our professional development, so it is just sad for me to realize that I won't get to see them on a daily basis in the very near future. Therefore, to cope with my sadness during this time, I am cherishing every opportunity I still have to work for the office. :)

Anyway, I will post detailed reflections upon my assistantship and this program overall in my future blogs, since I need to write a couple papers about them for my classes anyways. Stay tuned!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Higher Ed. Preview Day

Congratulations to all of you who have been accepted into the Higher Education program! To those of you who are here for the Higher Ed. Preview Day - I look forward to meeting you bright and early at the registration tomorrow! :) This year's central planning committee members have worked very hard to put together all the details for the preview day, so I am very glad that many of you are able to make it! (To others who are not able to come, no worries - I wasn't able to make it last year, either. However, hope to have you join our other preview events to learn more about our program and what it is like to be a student at Penn GSE!)

One year and two days ago, I had the phone interview for my current graduate assistantship with my current supervisor Alyssa. Looking back at the past seven months, I am so grateful for such an opportunity to learn from and work with everyone in this fabulous team! It is very hard to believe that in two days, I will be sitting in on the assistantship interviews for the next cohort with my supervisor and teammate. I am very excited to meet the next cohort members who are interested in my current assistantship, but also feeling sad that this experience is coming to an end for me. I have learned so much during this short amount of time, and have definitely felt more confident about my overall abilities after being trained and advised by experienced professionals like my supervisor and others on the team. This job involves lots of opportunities to interact with prospective and accepted students (depending on the time of the year), as well as with current students, faculty, staff, and alumni. It provides great learning opportunities toward event planning and advertising, and helps me further improve my written and verbal communication skills within the field of Admissions. It also challenges me to prioritize various responsibilities on a daily basis and helps me to strengthen my time management skills. In addition, I have built up an awesome network through this assistantship, which is a great comfort for me realizing that the relationships will last despite the upcoming end of this assistantship.

Good luck to all of you at the assistantship interviews! Please feel free to email me if you have any specific question for me about this position!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

An Inspirational Quote to Share

Positive words contain immense power to touch one's heart and inspire one's life. They easily touch my heart and motivate me to keep pushing forward toward another milestone despite the tremendous stress I experience from time to time...

Here is one from one of my professors this semester that I would like to share with all of you here. It is such a blessing to have educators around me who truly care about their students, and can inspire us in big or small ways on a daily basis. I hope you will be inspired, too, even without knowing about the context. :)

"I wanted to take a moment to thank you for your willingness to both listen and provide honest and genuine feedback. I hope you each know I truly appreciate your presence and the offerings contributed to the class. Each voice is important and relevant. At the end of the day, we become better because of the knowledge gained by our individual and collective experiences. The work we do is significant and if you already haven't, you are about to embark on a journey that can and will save people's college experiences, if not some of their lives. You will make a difference and I simply want to do my part in making sure you are all confidently ready. Students across the country will be lucky to have you in their lives. Just remember, we will continue to grow no matter how much experience we have. So, be present, transparent, honest and risk taking by leaving your comfort zone when possible- our students are watching and they need you, they need us." 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Some Reflections of these Past Couple Weeks

It has been so wonderful communicating with some of you out there whether via email, phone calls, Facebook, web chats, or even in person!! I am looking forward to more opportunities to communicate and meet with more of you during the rest of this semester! Thank you to all of you who have been reading my blogs and sharing this journey with me either directly or indirectly!

It was such a relief to finish our Comps. after an intense amount of time spent sorting through materials, reading, reflecting, and writing! My brain was fried pretty well after the Comps, but it was also great to get a sense of how much I have learned and absorbed during the process. We won't find out the result of our Comps. until later, but I have definitely seen great improvement in my own critical thinking ability and my academic writing skills through this program so far. It was one of the main reasons why I decided to pursue a master's degree after several years of working because I wanted to gain more theoretical knowledge and some in-depth understanding of why practitioners do what they do on a daily basis in today's world. I have indeed felt more equipped through this program, and on top of it, the graduate assistantship has been helping me to continue to develop professionally and expand the valuable network. Sometimes, it is very fun to learn about the concepts and rationales of certain policies and practices in class (such as the Enrollment Management course I'm taking this semester), and immediately be able to observe or even carry out the practices at my assistantship right afterwards. 

We had one week of classes after Comps. and before our Spring Break, which was also when I finally started my last course of the semester / program - Globalization and the Universities! As you may remember, I have been very excited about this class for a long, long time, and our professor is awesome! Dr. Ruby is so knowledgeable and experienced, and definitely has his own humorous and serious way of teaching this class and keeping us engaged from 9a.m. to 1p.m. on Fridays! Like most classes we have, there are tons of readings for this class. It is humanly impossible for anyone to start reading the day before classes and hope to have completed all of them, which I had learned last semester, so I did mine a couple days prior to the last class with my still-fried brain and exhausted body! :) Thankfully, that was the last course before our Spring Break! 

That being said, even though I was hoping to do some studying, applying for jobs, and just getting things done ahead of time for after the break, it did not happen over the break. I was completely relaxing - sleeping, watching TV / movies, window-shopping, AND of course, finally spending some quality time with my husband, our extended family and friends! I felt refreshed and re-energized after the break, but also kind of felt guilty for not sticking to my plans. 

Besides of feeling the "rush" from "loosing" one hour due to Daylight Saving, time has just been zooming by after the break! Some of my cohort members who started to apply for jobs early are getting into the phase of interviews, so I am definitely feeling the pressure. More and more project/paper deadlines are approaching, which also add to the pressure. Things are getting busier and busier at my assistantship during this time of the year, so the increased excitement and joy of more connecting with prospective and accepted students and more opportunities to learn on the job are also reminding me that time is fleeting here. I have been frequently asked about experiences as a current student, AND plans for the future upon graduation, so it is getting very real to me that I am graduating SOON! Guess what?! We have also received emails about RSVPing for participating in the GSE commencement ceremony, and tomorrow is the deadline for us to get our graduation regalia! 

Phew! At this very specific moment, I am both looking forward to graduating and not wanting to graduate at the same time. There is definitely a feeling of approaching to a milestone right now, but everything is also rolling just like usual for many other people that are around me. I am learning to take more deep breath, and cherishing each day and each person around me in spite of the fast pace here. 
Until next time, hope you are all well! :)