Yuanying "Mona" Mo

International Student Spotlight: Yuanying Mo

Yuanying “Mona” Mo is an international student from China. She is graduating from the MS Marketing program this year.

Q: What is your background?

Mo: “Hi! My name is Yuanying Mo and I go by Mona. I will graduate with the MS Marketing degree in December.

I was born and raised in Huizhou, a small and scenic city with 4 million people in south China. I earned a Psychology degree from Shenzhen University, and I used to live 5 minutes away from the Tencent headquarters. I worked in a factory selling and exporting advanced wound care products to international clients before I came to UF.

Like many of my generation, I’m the only child in my family, but I have a few younger cousins who are just like my siblings. My family is pretty big but it definitely seems even bigger during holidays such as Chinese New Year.”

Q: Tell us about your home country.

Mo: “My expat friends in China and I always joke about how, in Chinese, the name ‘China’ literally translates into ‘the middle kingdom,’ and I want to tell you it is true. Like the way many American people grow up seeing the US at the center of the world map, we also grow up seeing China at the center. China has several thousand years of history, and hundreds of old literature pieces are still recited by the common public.

However, Chinese people are also very receptive to technology. Electric cars, bullet trains and online shopping are not new things in our daily life. China is different and cool in its own way, and I think everyone should go see it if the opportunity comes.”

Q: What was the most difficult part of your journey to where you are today?

Mo: “The most difficult and important thing in getting to where I am today has been to have a vision of what I want to do with my life in the future. Though I grew up in a traditional Chinese family and education system, I chose to have some very different life experiences from my peers, including jobs, my partner and hobbies. As an international student living far away from home, I sometimes forget how my life and identity used to be.

Reflecting on my own journey and making sense of it always helps me clear my head and see the next step. I’m also grateful that sometimes my stories bring inspiration to people around me.”

Q: What do you miss about your home country?

Mo: “I dream about my friends and family back home every night and look forward to seeing them again. They motivate, understand and support me through thick and thin.

I also miss the food and the convenience in China. As a Cantonese girl, it’s been an ongoing struggle not being able to have Cantonese soup and dessert every day and a wide variety of street food when it’s late at night. Fortunately, the hotpot spot in town scratches the itch for me from time to time.”

Yuanying Mo rides a surfboard in the ocean and sits on an elephant in a river.

Q: Why did you decide to come to the University of Florida? What is your favorite thing about being here?

Mo: “I decided to come to UF because of its high ranking and the quality of the graduate program delivered. The classes I took opened many doors for me. I have identified my strengths and weaknesses, pushed myself to build new skills and improved every day.

I’ve been enjoying the beautiful nature and wildlife the state of Florida has to offer. I also love the breweries, food trucks, art events and farmers markets in town.”

Q: What additional languages you speak? Have you visited any other countries?

Mo: “I speak Mandarin, a little Cantonese and my hometown dialect, Huizhou Hua. I have been to Thailand three times, the Philippines twice, Vietnam, Cambodia and Bali, Indonesia. People in Southeast Asia love me and think I’m from their country no matter where I go.”

Q: Tell us a cool fact about yourself.

Mo: “I was a competitive ballroom dancer specializing in the five standard Latin dances for six years. I’m a photographer. I have photographed weddings, maternity sessions, brewery and restaurant menus, etc. I also like singing and was in a band as the lead singer in high school.”