International students find solace in furry friends

International students find comfort in owning animals. Photo illustration by Grace Everett

By Sarah Wang | Reporter

Shanghai senior Yunting Ling raised a cat and said he highly recommends owning a pet while at Baylor.

“You can’t survive here if you live alone and don’t raise a pet,” Ling said.

International students have greater risks of mental health problems, according to a psychological journal by Public Mental Health. However, pets have been found to improve mental health and reduce loneliness.

Baylor alumna Ran Tian adopted a dog when she first arrived in the United States, and she adopted another dog shortly after so that they would have a companion in one another. She currently works and studies in Los Angeles, and she said she carries one of her dogs with her everywhere she goes.

“I have two dogs, and I send one of them back to China,” Tian said. “I have the other one by my side.”

Beijing junior Jiaqui Ma is the owner of Nainai. Ma stayed with Nainai in Waco during both her summer and winter vacations instead of going back home in order to take care of him.

“It’s been long since the last time I returned to China,” Ma said. “I haven’t gone back once since I started to raise Nainai. He really needs people to be by his side, and I feel anxious leaving him to somebody else.”

Suzhoui, China, freshman Huiwen Hou is currently taking care of a cat whose owner returned to their home country after graduating.

“I will be here and continue to take care of the cat if I’m not going back this summer,” Hou said. “But I don’t really know what could happen to the cat. I don’t know when she is going to come back to the United States. I hope he still have a chance to meet with his owner.”