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Danni & Shanni Zheng

Danni & Shanni Zheng

Twin sisters Danni and Shanni Zheng, of Quanzhou, China, decided they were ready for a study abroad experience. Their home university, Xiamen University, helped them arrange to attend The University of Iowa for one semester.

“There were several American schools to choose from, but we knew the University of Iowa had a good reputation. We were also interested in Iowa’s climate. We’ve never seen snow,” Danni explains.

Their desire to see snowflakes first-hand was granted in early December when Iowa City was blanketed with snow, but they were also pleased with their overall collegiate experience.

Shanni is studying finance and Danni is an accounting student at Xiamen University. They enrolled in a balance of business classes including courses in their respective areas of study.

“At the beginning of the semester, we were challenged by the language barrier, but we quickly became used to native-English speakers,” says Shanni.  The sisters studied English in the Chinese school system since they were very young, and as a result speak English fluently.

“I am very thankful for Global Body, an organization on campus that connects international students to American students. We made many friends and it was a great opportunity to practice our English,” says Danni.

When asked to describe the highlight of their study abroad experience, they are quick to explain their involvement in Tippie Build, a homebuilding project for Habitat for Humanity in the Iowa City community. Danni and Shanni volunteered every Saturday for half-day and many full-day shifts.

“We could never have this experience in China,” says Shanni. “It was all new to us. At first we worked with hammer and nails and eventually used power tools.”  They had the opportunity write their names on lumber used for the garage and their dream is to someday return to Iowa City to meet the family who will eventually live in the house they helped build from nearly a world away.

“It is a wonderful feeling to know we have contributed to something so meaningful. We are here for just one semester, but we feel we have made a difference while we were here.”