Meet Your Fellow International Anteater

The International Center is committed to facilitating an enriching college experience for the international community at UC Irvine. Meet Your Fellow Anteater is an opportunity for us to connect international students by highlighting the involvements, accomplishments, and experiences of the outstanding students in our community. Don't be afraid to say "hi" when you see your fellow anteater around campus. 


Zhaomin (Isaac) Li

Year: Junior
Major: Software engineering & Data science 
Home Country: 
Hunan, China
Native Language: Mandarin 

1. What is your favorite American food/snack?

I love the teriyaki cheeseburger, especially with pineapple. The fried sweet potato is also my favorite. Yep, I like almost all the sweet foods. ^^

2. If you would have a conversation with one person (fictional, living, deceased), who would it be and why?

I want to talk with my first Chinese teacher. She is one of the most respectable people to me. The knowledge she taught us was not limited in the classroom. I would talk with her whenever I fell frustrate about school or family, and what she said shaped my personalities. She let me realize the significance of confidence, empathy, and leniency. I first time tried to put myself in others’ shoes to treat an issue. I still kept in touch with her in my middle school. However, she later moved away and we started to lose the contact. If I have the chance, I would sit down with her and talk about what we went through in these 10 years.

3. What are three words you would use to describe yourself and why?

My teacher used to give me three words which comprehensively describe myself.

Aspiration: The ambition is my knack to accomplish the goals. When planning the things, I always set my goals in the first place and trust myself that I can achieve the goals. Before each quarter or even week starts, I list all the challenges I need to overcome and conquer them one by one. The aspiration is like the engine which offers me the energy to continue my journey.

Inspiration: Inspiration comes from our life. I do believe in the effectiveness of inspiration, especially in my field. I cherish the inspiration derived from my life and I record them in my diaries or my notebooks. In my idea, the inspirations are from the details in my life and I should become insightful to capture the details.

Perspiration: Diligence is as important as the intelligence. My father told me the best shortcut to success is hard-working and he use his experience to prove its correctness. Before every debate, I need to spend days on preparing the examples and to holistically analyze the topic. Before every performance, I need to practice the same music for hundreds of times. Before every research or internship, I read a variety of books and materials to get ready for the challenges. I may be a do-it-first person. ^^

4. Why did you choose to come to UCI for college?

I major in Data Science area (I wanted to work with the data field since I was in middle school), and UCI is a pioneer in this field. It also has its own Informatics & Computer Science school. Besides its academic advantages, the UCI locates in one of the best places for living. The weather and the natural environment attract numerous students, including me, to start their college here.

5. Who or what inspires/motivates you in life/in school? Is there a specific quote or phrase that you live by?

Steve Jobs. His sentence, “stay hungry, stay foolish”, becomes my motto. He life itself is a novel and that is the lifestyle I pursue. As I studied Computer Science, his sentence became more precious. I realized that when I know more things, I also find a lot of new issues that I do not understand. The only thing I can do is “stay hungry, stay foolish” – being wistful to the new stuffs. 

6. What are some of your involvements here at UCI?

I have been in the UCI anteater band for two years, and I also played the buk (a Korean drum) in Hansori. I and my friends started a student organization called the Chinese Union in Computer Science, which focuses on offering extracurricular activities and finding job opportunities for international student in ICS school. I also involved in several research groups in the areas of software development, data service, and statistics (some sorts of fancy things). 

7. What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them? What advice do you have for other international students currently adjusting to life in the United States?

I would say the biggest difference I first recognized is the culinary culture. Two countries have different cooking ways, cuisine styles, and dining etiquettes, and I keep learning new cooking skills. I had never used oven before I came into America, but now I use the oven on daily basis. I used to live in a Hispanic host family and they taught me how to make burritos and quesadillas. Now the cuisines in America become more diverse. Various restaurants are opened in Irvine city, so I can enjoy the food from all around the world.

8. What is your favorite experience at UCI and/or the U.S. so far?

I cherish my experience with the English Conversation Program. The ECP, held by UCI international center, offers the international students an opportunity to converse with the experienced students in UCI, and to gain the helps. In my first year, I was an international student in this program. I received the confidence as well as the experience. After two quarters, I became one of the facilitators, telling other my stories and sharing my tips in college-life. I am now still a volunteer in the ECP, meeting people from all around the world as well as enriching myself during the conversation.

Meet Other Fellow International Anteaters

Jonathan Reyna

Max Li

Gabriela Santos

Imam Uz Zaman

Jasmine Ho

Feiyang Tao


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