John Aniekan Lewis from Lagos, Nigeria, joined Duke Kunshan’s undergraduate Class of 2022 as an early decision applicant. Here, he reflects on making such a big decision at a young age and talks about life on campus.
Signing an ED agreement is a big step for a high school student. How did it feel at the time?
It was quite a scary decision, but at the same time it was a more adventurous decision because obviously I knew about the connection Duke Kunshan has with Duke, and the idea of studying in China and getting an American-style education there was very exciting. And the opportunity to be a pioneer student in a new school was very exciting. Those kinds of things made the decision less scary and a bit easier.
How did your family and friends react when you told them you wanted to go to Duke Kunshan?
My parents were very excited, because my dad loves us exploring and stepping out of our boundaries. I have four siblings, three older brothers. Three of them are on different continents. My dad is always pushing us to stretch our boundaries, so when I told him, “Hey Dad, I’m going to apply to China,” he was very excited. And my mom helped me throughout the whole process. When I told my friends, they were not really surprised because they know my nature, as a very adventurous person, always ready to try new things and learn new languages and cultures.
What would you tell the ED students who are preparing to head to Duke Kunshan in the summer?
I’d tell them to anticipate a lot of surprises and a lot of new things they probably haven’t seen before. You’re going to interact with lots of different people. You need to keep an open mind; a lot of things are going to scare you, and a lot of things are going to excite you. It’s going to be a mixture of fun and excitement.
So you’re six months into life at Duke Kunshan. How would you sum up the experience so far?
If I was to say it in one word I’d say “unique,” because it’s been quite different. I didn’t expect it to go this well. There’s a good flow to things. And you won’t realize it’s a new school, just because of how well set up it is. In terms of social life, they’re a lot of different people from different cultures here. In terms of the campus, the courses and China in general, it’s a very beautiful campus, I really enjoy the campus life, and I enjoy how welcoming the people are. In China, there is a culture of friendliness, it’s very heartwarming. So far it’s been a very good experience. They’re have been some down times; when I first came, I didn’t really speak Chinese, I was a bit confused. But in six months I’ve learned a bit of Chinese and I’m able to converse with my roommate and strangers.
How have you found learning the Chinese language?
It’s been great. I have a good teacher who’s very supportive, and the classroom setting is very intimate and we help each other learn. My roommates are Chinese and they help me every day to practice and to speak the language, so I’ve learned quite a lot for such a short period of time.