Freshmen finding way around campus, C-U
URBANA — Wide-eyed freshmen can be found all over the University of Illinois campus this week, exploring their new home, meeting new friends and desperately seeking directions to the nearest Wal-Mart.
Tingting Cai, 17, of Shanghai, China, was getting her first look at the Alma Mater statue while walking across campus after a marathon trip to Champaign-Urbana.
"It took 40 hours to fly to Chicago, and then I spent the night in Chicago before taking a shuttle bus here," Cai said. "But seeing this beautiful campus is certainly worth it."
Find out how to navigate freshman move in day Thursday at 7:40 a.m. as UI Deputy Police Chief Skip Frost joins the WDWS Morning Show.
For Aline Lopes of Brazil, this week marks her first visit to Illini country. The 20-year-old freshman plans to study civil engineering.
"Me and my friends registered for classes and got our I cards," Lopes said. "Then we all headed to Wal-Mart to buy our stuff. We have Wal-Marts in Brazil, too."
Mathew Garcia, 18, didn't need a passport to get here but it's no place like home — in West Point, Utah.
"Mathew has been dreaming of coming here since the start of his senior year in high school," said his mother, Meghan Garcia.
"I was in a statistics class in high school, and one of my teachers was telling me about the University of Illinois," Garcia said. "I would like a career in math and teaching. I did some research and realized this is the perfect place for me to go to college."
First impressions? "It's very, very green, especially compared to Utah," he said. "This is going to be a great place to call home."
William Givens, 18, had a much shorter commute. The Urbana Uni High grad hails from Catlin.
"Frankly, it was the only place I dreamed of attending," he said. "I've always been a fan of the Fighting Illini, so this seemed like the best place for me."
Givens spent much of Monday pedaling across campus on his bicycle, tracking the time it will take him to go from one class to another.
The longest? "I need to get from my dorm to Altgeld Hall, and it takes me about 10 minutes by bike," he said.
Meanwhile, freshman Chunzheng Wang was asking bystanders for directions to the Savoy Wal-Mart.
"I need to buy a lot of supplies," he said.
Wang, 19, from Handan in southwestern China, was attracted to the UI because of its economics program.
"The University of Illinois has a great reputation in China, and lots of people have told me this is a very good university," he said. "I'm chasing my dream to be a great businessman, and the UI is going to play a big part in helping me to reach my dream."
For Shuyu Wang, 18, of Zhengzhou in north-central China, the best part of C-U is being able to walk around without gasping.
"It is so refreshing to breathe this clean American air," she said.
With more than eight million residents, Zhengzhou has a lot of smog and pollution, she said.
For Wang, a degree from the UI will go a long way toward finding a good job back home.
"I'm starting out in general studies, but my plan is to transfer to the business program," she said. "There are a lot of high-paying jobs in China for people who know accounting."
University by the numbers
Expected number of freshmen arriving this week.
Number of one-tablespoon servings expected to be served to new students from the world's largest jar of spread (at least, that's the goal) on Friday. The UI again aims to set a new Guinness World Record with the vegan spread, made of tomatoes, peaches, sugar, balsamic vinegar and water.
New annual student fee that helps pay for the $169.5 million State Farm Center renovation.
Number of registered student organizations that will set up on "Quad Day," the annual tradition on Saturday when student groups recruit new members.
Days until Thanksgiving break begins.
News-Gazette staff writer Christine Des Garennes contributed to this report.