Before meeting in person their freshman year, Lauren Benedict of Orange County, California and Dora Zhou, a native of Shanghai, became WeChat friends and already knew each other’s favorite color and Coldplay song. “We got along right away; it was fun living together,” says Lauren.
Now sophomores, the pair have enjoyed spending both American and Chinese holidays together—they’ve walked around Shanghai Disneyland eating turkey legs for Thanksgiving and spent Chinese New Year and Golden Week in Shanghai with Dora’s family. “Dora took me to her house, and her mom cooked us this amazing meal. I tried so many foods I've never tried before, it was incredible,” remembers Lauren. “For Chinese New Year, my mom prepared several red packets for her,” says Dora. “You know when you transfer money on WeChat you get a red packet, but to get a real one for Chinese New Year—I was so excited!” says Lauren.
Touring local water towns, bonding over 90s Korean music, sharing skincare routines, and a shared love for China’s recent Peppa Pig obsession are just some of the things that keep their friendship strong. And though they don’t frequently hang out together at the dorms, they’re always in each other’s thoughts. “Dora and I do this thing where we leave presents on each others' desks, or stickers, or a note,” says Lauren. And no matter where they are: “We say goodnight and good morning to each other every day,” adds Dora.
Celebrating friendship and Thanksgiving at Disneyland in Shanghai.
Lauren Benedict ‘21
Home: North Tustin, Orange County, CA, USA
Major: Business and Marketing, Global China Studies
Love to share: Food and snacks! Dora really loves Goldfish, so when I go back to America, I always bring her back some.
Helping each other: Dora used to help me with my Chinese and I would help her with her English for Academic Purposes class.
Favorite memory: Going to Shanghai Disneyland for Thanksgiving. It was Dora’s first time, and now it’s a tradition. We looked like cavemen eating these giant turkey legs; it was so messy. And we got big pieces of cheesecake from Cheesecake Factory, which was so much fun.
Best thing about Dora: Her heart is just so completely kind and is always positive. Even when I'm having a bad day, she’ll always make me consider the brighter side of things.
Hanging out in the garden in front of NYU Shanghai.
Mi Zhou (Dora) ‘21
Home: Qingpu district, Shanghai, China
Major: Business and Finance, Interactive Media Arts
Where you’ll find them: At the NYU Shanghai Library. We study a lot. It's a really nice, quiet, warm place and anytime we need help, we can just run over and ask each other questions.
Inside joke: Lauren nicknamed me the Princess of China, after the Coldplay song, because I was the first person from here she’d ever met. Every time I post a photo on Instagram, she comments: #PrincessofChina.
Best thing about Lauren: She’s super supportive. Not only does she help me a lot with my English, she helps me communicate with floormates when it’s super noisy outside. She’ll poke her head outside and tell them: “My roommate is trying to study! You have to be quiet!"
Exploring a countryside park in Qingpu, Shanghai, where Dora lives.
Trying out the local food at Shanghai's water town Zhujiajiao.
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