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Alumnus/Alumna profile

Pengxuanzi Zhan

Pursuing a Bachelor of Arts 21
Major in Italian
Minor langue française

“I want to be able to meet people from all over the world and be able to use their languages to communicate with them.”

Pengxuanzi Zhan had always dreamed of learning Italian – so she did

After moving to Quebec from China, Pengxuanzi Zhan studied psychology at Bishop’s University, before applying to do a second Bachelor of Arts degree, at Concordia, this time with a focus on Italian — her fifth language.

What led you to choose Italian as a major?

When I was in China, I always wanted to study Italian.I participated in a summer exchange program in Italy for three weeks to study the language during my first degree. After that, I applied to the program at Concordia. This was my chance to realize my dream.

What do you hope to gain from studying Italian at university?

I want to work in a cross-cultural environment. I speak French and my mother tongue is Mandarin. I’ve also studied Japanese and now I know Italian. I want to be able to meet people from all over the world and be able to use their languages to communicate with them.

Why did you choose Concordia? What was special about your Concordia experience?

I moved to Montreal after my first degree because my parents were already here. I lived near Concordia and I loved the neighborhood and community nearby.

When I finally started studying at Concordia, I was involved with the International Students Office (ISO). Last winter, I participated in many activities to help us get to know the Concordia neighborhood better. The ISO also gave me the chance to make friends from all over the world.

What was your experience of the program when you first started?

I found the classes to be quite small. For me, that was helpful because my speaking skills were not good when I started. It gave me more opportunities to communicate in Italian with the professor and other students.

If you could describe the program in three key terms, what would they be?

Close-knit: professors, students, and program advisors

In-depth: the small classes allow us to dig deeply into a topic

Multicultural: students in the Italian program come from many backgrounds. Some are Italian-Canadian and, for others, their mother tongue is French. Because of this diversity, our group discussions are often interesting, as we share our different views and cultural backgrounds and discover things we never knew before.

What were some of your favourite courses in the program?

I took an Italian language course where, for our final group project, we had to interview Italians living in Montreal for many years.

What advice would you give to prospective students?

Don’t be afraid to study Italian even though you don’t have a background in the language. You can still learn the language because the professors at Concordia are very helpful. And you can do it step-by-step because the course structure is designed to help beginners.

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