Graduation Year: 2017
Interview with Qianyi Liu, 3/24/17 by Carrie Mott
Qianyi was an international student from China and is one of Rutgers Geography’s 2017 graduates, he was interviewed near the end of the final semester of his senior year. Here he talks with Dr. Carrie Mott about his experiences as an international student in the Rutgers Geography program, and how he feels geography will help him in the future.
First question, why did you choose a major in Geography?
At first I was a math major, but then I took some Geography courses just for credit and I felt like Geography courses were pretty interesting for me. I’m interested in how people fit into space, like, how people interact with the environment. And also, my father was a landscape designer and he gives me a lot of inspiration for how to observe the environment and how to observe people’s behavior, how they interact with the environmental space.
How has your experience majoring in Rutgers’ Geography program been?
I would say it’s a pretty interesting program for me because there are courses from Remote Sensing for Geographic Techniques, and then to Gender Geographies and Political Geography- so it’s a pretty diverse program. You gain a lot of knowledge about different fields- like sociology or environmental studies- those kind of combinations. It’s pretty awesome!
So you like the diversity of the things you can do?
Yeah, you can talk to people, you can share ideas with people. That is the thing you can not do in the math department, people always talk about the test, the exam. But right here, people are talking about the topic of international issues, or environmental and social issues.
What track have you focused on?
I’m focused on human geography, on the social track [Global Culture, Economics, and Society].
Why did you pick that one?
Like I said, I’m pretty interested in how people fit into space. Right now the trend of the world is going to be more globalized, in the connections between people, between countries, between people and space- it’s growing faster. I’m from China, and China is a country with a lot of environmental issues because the development of the Chinese economy is so fast, but people don’t care about the environment. So there’s a lot of pollution over there and right now you can see that America is a pretty developed country, but the environment of America is much better than China. I would say that the relationship between people and the environment is very important- it’s everyday, it’s everything around you. Geography is subject that can solve this kind of problem. I’m pretty interested in how people think of space, think of the environment. But I also took some courses in the Geographic Techniques track- that’s interesting as well.
Did you feel like those courses were very complicated? Were you able to learn some techniques?
Yeah, I’m pretty bad at coding and computer stuff, but I did an interesting project in Remote Sensing on coastal sediment in the Yellow River in China. At the end of the river the sediment becomes a delta and then the size of the delta becomes much bigger because it’s growing. People realized that the sediment comes from the upper part of the river and so people modified the riverbed and added more trees next to the river to protect the soil- and then after 20 years you can see that the delta size becomes much smaller because people were able to influence it. Humans can really influence the environment for the long term, for several decades.
What is one way that you think the Geography program at Rutgers has been valuable for you as a student?
Geography makes me think more, to do more thinking stuff. Like to think about the current popular issues of society, of the environment. As students we are encouraged to do research on the projects and topics that we are interested in. There is a lot of focus on popular issues, like on the urban landscape and pollution in New York, or demographic issues. We can use resources from online or from the department to conclude some theories of our own. We can compose knowledge by ourselves, to discover by ourselves.
Do you feel like you’ve had good support from the department as you’ve been a student here?
Yeah, people share ideas with each other. Between students, we help each other out. Also the faculty, the teachers in the department- every time I’m in trouble with the schedule of classes Professor Rennermalm always helps me out.
How do you feel that your experiences with the faculty have been?
People really love to help each other. In Geography everybody is so nice- people are willing to share their ideas with you and you can share yours with them. It’s always good to share ideas with people, like if I give you my thought and you give me your thought- we have both. It’s a win-win situation.
Do you know many other geography majors?
I know a lot of American students that are in geography but I don’t know any Chinese students!
Do you feel like for the students that are here, the majors in general- have you had good opportunities to get to know them and to interact with the other students in the program?
Yeah because Geography classes are always like a workshop, people are working together in a small scale class. It’s pretty good to communicate with people.
Do you find that you have the same people in some of our classes? Have you had multiple classes with the same people sometimes?
Yeah, I think a lot of the Geography majors have similar schedules. I’m majoring in human geography [the Global Culture, Economics, and Society track] and some of the human geography students always have the same classes as me.
What would you say to other international students about your experiences with the Geography department?
I would say that right here in the Geography department you will have a better chance to learn more about American culture. You have more chances to talk to people. When I was in the math department, I barely talked to people. I didn’t talk to people about how the culture works. But in the Geography department you can really push yourself to think about how you will learn from American culture. And, that’s why I’m here in America!
What about specifically for Chinese students? Do you think this is a major that would be interesting for other students coming from China?
I think Geography is a tool to solve a lot of problems. You can put different titles on it, like Social Geography, Gender Geography, Political Geography. In China, those kind of issues- these might be useful tools for your career, for the society. And, for your college life, I think geography is very open minded so it gives you a lot of flexibility for how you think about and deal with the issues in society and the environment. Especially for Chinese students, I would say that at the beginning I didn’t expect that I could learn so much from geography. But then after I tried Remote Sensing, after I tried Political Geography and Gender Geography, I know things that I had never seen or heard of before. My horizon has been broadened, that’s the best part of Geography I think.
What are your plans for your future after graduation?
I will go back to China and get an internship first and I will prepare for my graduate school applications during the next year, and I will come back to America for graduate school.
Do you have any other thoughts you’d like to share with people?
I hope there will be more Chinese students in this department!