With the stress of balancing school and social lives, it is common for students to find an outlet to escape the stress.
For foreign students facing language barriers, it is even more crucial to have that go-to activity to help get their mind off of the pressure.
For Xiao Liu, graduate student in electrical engineering, music is the best distraction.
Liu came to America in August 2014 from China because he said he believed it would challenge him and make him a better student and person.
“Staying in one place for many years is boring,” Liu said. “Auburn was so different to come to.”
Liu also said he believes as an engineer he can get a better education and job in America.
“America has the best education in the world,” Liu said.
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When Liu arrived in America, he said realized he faced some obstacles, such as heavy amounts of work, and not speaking English.
He quickly turned to music as a way to help get his mind off of the difficulties.
“When I get stressed I feel exhausted, but when I focus on music I get excited again,” Liu said.
For a while, he would just listen to music when he felt stressed to help relax him.
After a while, he had the desire to learn to play the instruments.
The first instrument Liu learned to play was the accordion when he was younger. He played for four years, but quit in high school to make studying a priority.
The second instrument he learned to play was the harmonica, which he taught himself last fall.
Three months ago, Liu learned to play his most recent instrument, the ocarina.
He heard about the ocarina on TV, and decided he wanted to learn to play.
He ordered the instrument online in China, and had his dad bring it to him when he visited him in Auburn.
Not knowing anyone else who plays the ocarina, Liu took breaks in between studying and taught himself to play the instrument using books and videos.
Since he has learned to play the ocarina, Liu said he has developed a new sense of patience.
Sometimes when he plays the ocarina, Liu said, it is hard to play certain notes. But playing the instrument has taught him how to remain calm and control his breathing.
Liu also said he has learned patience through figuring out how to deal with disappointment if he cannot play a specific note or song.
Another thing playing the ocarina has taught Liu is he enjoys learning and trying new activities.
Similar to coming to America for his master’s, Liu said trying new things, such as the ocarina, has helped him discover new things about himself.
Getting to share this talent, he said, is another positive aspect about the ocarina he enjoys.
By sharing his talent, Liu has been able to introduce the instrument to friends, some of which have expressed interest in purchasing.
No matter what it is, Liu said having an outlet to reduce stress is crucial.
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