Wu walked a little way down College Street, then turned right and started to cross the road. The light had just changed, but it was raining and she didn’t want to wait and get wet.
She didn’t see the car as it changed lanes to avoid hitting the two girls in front of her.
Wu said it wasn’t until she was lying on the ground that she realized she had been hit.
It was like being in a movie, she said.
She was in shock, the pain hadn’t hit her yet and everyone around her was speaking English — a language very unlike her native Mandarin.
“I didn’t feel the pain at that time, I just thought, ‘What happened?’” Wu said from a tall chair in the lab where she studies molecular biology. “The girl who hit me was crying, and the girl who was with me, she’s crying, too. And I said, ‘Please call 911 before you (cry anymore).’”
Wu said she was not seriously injured. She was taken to the hospital by an ambulance and was discharged soon after.
But she didn’t return to the lab for two weeks, she said.
Wu said she has not forgotten how fortunate she was not to have been killed.
“Without a crosswalk I will not cross the road,” Wu said. “Because I do not think I will be lucky forever. This time (it wasn’t serious) but that means next time is so lucky again. So I will not do it again.”
She hasn’t told her parents, who live in southern China, about her accident.
Wu doesn’t want them to worry about whether it is safe for her to study in Auburn and try to make her return home.
Wu came to Auburn because the University’s fisheries department is famous where she is from.
“Chinese students think if you want to learn real science you need to go to America,” Wu said.
She explained this is because many Nobel winners and others who excel in science are Englishspeaking and often from the U.S.
She said the university where she attended undergrad, the Ocean University of China, has an exchange program with Auburn.
Auburn is paying the tuition for her graduate program, Wu said, while the Chinese government pays for her living expenses.
China will want her to teach science when she returns, Wu said.
“I like the life here,” Wu said. “But I will go back to China.”
But while Wu came to Auburn expecting to pursue her doctorate studying molecular microbiology and researching pseudomonas aeruginosa, a bacterium that can cause disease in humans and animals, she did not expect to be hit by a car. The rules in China regarding pedestrians are different from those in the U.S., Wu said.
“In China, the pedestrians they always have the first right on the road,” Wu said. “They don’t care if you walk on the crosswalk or not.”
She added she thinks drivers in China are more watchful for pedestrians than drivers in America because of the different rules, and because there are more pedestrians there.
“I find that drivers here, because there are so little people who walk, (they don’t pay as much attention),” Wu said.
Also, in China, the driver is almost always held responsible for the accident because of how much a vehicle can hurt a person.
However, Wu found this was not the case for her accident. Because she was not obeying traffic laws, she was faulted.
She admitted she did not understand the rules are different here, and she wishes the University would inform its international students about the differences.
Especially since she thinks foreign students walk more than American students do.
“I get information about the medical, about the insurance, but it seems like we don’t get enough information about roads,” Wu said.
However, Wu has tried to do what she can to encourage her friends to be more cautious when they cross the road.
“I just hope it will not happen anymore,” Wu said.