Daniel Liu plays power forward on the Oxford men's basketball team.

Daniel Liu embraces sports, small-town life at Oxford

Some students run to a big city to attend college, but Daniel Liu looked for a quieter life while in school to help him focus on his studies and sports.

Liu is a second-year student from Shenzhen, China—a city with a population of about 12 million people north of Hong Kong.

“Since I lived almost my entire life in a big city, I don't want to have my college in a big city as well,” says Liu, who is studying computer science and business at Oxford. “I want to experience something different and unique.”

Some of Liu’s friends from school in China studied abroad in the United States, the United Kingdom or elsewhere, but many of them stayed in China to continue school or work. He was excited to come to the United States for the experience.

“The best part for me is to get to know all of the different people with different cultures and backgrounds and to face different challenges every day,” he says.

One of those challenges—but also one of his favorite things—is basketball. He plays power forward for the men’s team at Oxford, where he says it's more competitive than the sports he played back home.

“The hardest transition for me is definitely on the basketball team. Before coming to the U.S. for the first time in August, I have never competed in such high-level practices and games,” says Liu, who was captain of his high school basketball team and has enjoyed sports in China since a young age. “These have been hard for me, but I’m happy to face the challenge. It's just completely different here.”

Last year, he didn't get to play as much with the team, so this year he is excited to play more, especially since the team is aiming for a conference championship after making it to the playoffs last year.

“I have been passionate about sports since I was small,” Liu says. “I want to continue to improve my skills.”

In his free time he likes to travel with his new friends—they travel to surrounding states, like Florida, North and South Carolina and Tennessee. They also recently traveled over winter break to California and also visited the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and Sequoia national parks.

The beach and sunshine were some of his favorite parts about visiting California and Florida, but Liu especially enjoyed his visits to the parks. He likes that he can also find places to relax in nature near Oxford.

“I love nature so I will sometimes drive to nearby parks and lakes to relax myself in the scenery,” he says, adding that he also likes to work out in the gym or practice basketball in his free time.

He also is involved in the International Student Advisory Board, which helps transition and mentor through peer resources the students who are studying at Oxford from India, Nigeria, El Salvador and other countries all over the world as part of the international student programs.

“Daniel is just awesome – he just lights up and he's such a valued member of the Oxford community,” says Daphne Orr, director of International Student Programs. “(Having international students at Oxford) really strengthens the great diversity that we have here. The entire community benefits with ideas, perspectives, and culture, and we also get to share our culture.”

While Liu enjoys his time abroad at Oxford, he still misses some things about home—his family and the food. Thankfully, he's been able to go home during the summer and his family has visited him while in college, and he found some friends with talent to help him with the food.

“I enjoy taking my friends to the supermarket and buy ingredients, so they can cook me delicious Chinese dishes,” he admits. “Tasting some authentic Chinese food from time to time is always fun.”

After Oxford, Liu plans to attend Emory's Goizueta Business School in Atlanta. And even though he won't be at the Oxford campus anymore, he's looking forward to the next step. Atlanta's population is still only 500,000 people, and the whole state of Georgia about 10 million, so he's still experiencing a quieter city life than he's used to.

He also hopes to travel to the Midwest while in the United States, since he's traveled west and around the east so far. After finishing his studies and working in the United States for a few years, he plans to return home to finish his career.