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Heading to China

Three local students will be a part of the inaugural NYU-Shanghai class


Three 2013 grads from three local high schools will be among a tiny first class in the inaugural year of a university in China.

Hannah Johnstone from Westside Christian High, Ian Soder from Lakeridge High and Ann Yang from Lake Oswego High are among 149 international students in the first class of New York University-Shanghai. The other 151 students are Chinese nationals.

Students were chosen from more than 5,000 applicants to the school.Ann Yang

“The fact that three of us are from Lake Oswego is really, really crazy,” Yang said.

She said it’s partly chance and partly a desire some young people have to step “out of the bubble that we’ve lived in.”

She added that she’s of Chinese ancestry and wanted to see her homeland.

“I definitely feel a connection to China,” she said.

She is leaving on July 4 with friends to drink in the Asian country’s culture, although classes do not kick off until Sept. 2.

Soder said he wants to be proficient in Chinese and is thrilled about the international nature of the student body.Ian Soder

“It just seems like the world is so much smaller because you have all of these different countries set in this one environment,” he said. “It’s definitely cool.”

It’s difficult for him because it will be only the second time he’s been away from his twin brother and the first time was about 10 days. Soder said his brother, who will be going to school in Ohio, knows he loves Chinese culture and encouraged him to apply.

Students will still have a chance to see family on the holidays just as they would for any other college, even though this one is far away, Johnstone said.Hannah Johnstone

She said she made up her mind to attend the university when she visited the New York campus, one of NYU’s three degree-granting campuses. The other is in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

“I realized I didn’t want the normal college experience, and I think just going to a school in another country is going to open a ton of opportunities I wouldn’t have just going to a school in the U.S.,” Johnstone said.

Even though these students will be far from home, there’s also a study abroad program, and Johnstone is drawn to Spain and France.

The three students, who all were among the top students in their class, have not chosen a major yet. Johnston is considering pursuing biology; Yang is interested in business; and Soder is thinking about the social sciences, possibly business.

Right now, they’re all just focusing on beginning a new adventure.

“I’m really excited,” Soder said. “It’s just going out in the unknown.”



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  • 19 Sep 2014

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  • 20 Sep 2014

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