Interview by Sidda Bruno
你好，我的中文名字是安宰立。我是一位房产中介在 Housing Scout!
Zac is a sophomore International Business and Chinese double major at The University of Texas at Austin. He started as a leasing agent in Spring 2019. Here is a short interview we had with him to let you get to know him better.
Do you have any pets?
I don’t personally but my girlfriend does and we’ve just gotten a young cat, named Patrick. He’s very cute and very small. We just adopted him, but he’s an adorable white and gray kitten.
What is your favorite quote?
It’s in Latin, it’s “Ex Nihilo Nihil Fit”. It basically means, “nothing comes from nothing”. So, if you’re going to do nothing, you shouldn’t expect anything from it. I use this as motivation to get stuff done.
Do you have a favorite place to eat?
I don’t have a car, so I get around outside the UT area too much. Probably, Don’s (Japanese Kitchen). I liked it before they moved and now it’s cheaper so it’s nice except for waiting in line. I’m basic, I just get the Pork Don.
What’s it like back home for you?
I was from McKinney which is just an area north of Dallas. Everyone knows Plano, it’s just north of Plano. It’s really nature-y and it’s not as developed as some other areas in the Dallas area. It’s nice because there are a bunch of parks. Growing up, I did Boy Scouts for a long-time, Debate in high school, I played Cello in the orchestra also. The transition to Austin is easier than I would have expected just because I have a lot of friends who also came to UT, so at least having that support network is nice. Austin also does feel like a small town within the UT area, there are large building, but it’s not a massive city like New York or San Francisco. It’s very easy to manage.
Tell me about your majors!
I applied to McCombs and I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do once I got here but I ended up having a professor that connected me with someone who did international business and Chinese/Asian studies concurrently. Having someone who was able to walk me through how the degree plans work and overlap – it is all super manageable because for International business you have to choose a region and a specific language. It’s nice because I get a McCombs degree, but it’s not Finance! It’s a very small major.
Are you in any UT organizations?
I’m in one APO, Alpha Phi Omega, who does the Flag runs at the beginning of football games. It’s mainly a service organization and it was originally Eagle Scouts who graduated coming into college. Because I’m an Eagle Scout, someone recommended it to me. There’s like 150 people in it, so there’s plenty to make friends. For service, we do SureWalk, we host events for Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, we do merit badges…it’s not a traditional Greek organization and it’s pretty cheap to join. Otherwise, I do independent work like play the Cello for a few local churches – it’s nice to keep up the skills because I feel bad about having a Cello and not using it at all!
What do you enjoy about college?
I am really enjoying the studies part of all of it. I was always a good student and I still am. Coming here for the school aspect was important to me, all the professors that I have, especially in the Chinese program are all really amazing. Being able to learn skills that I’ll actually be able to use is very motivating for me to continue with my studies. Other than that, it’s interesting going to a school with such big school spirit especially because I’m on the field for a lot of football games. For home games, we have the flag rolled up on the end-zone and once the band starts playing we do a flag trick that’s really short. We’re on the field for maybe 30 seconds – 1 minute, but it’s nice to see the players and even Matthew McConaughey – I’ve talked with him a couple of times.
What do you do for fun?
I really like going hiking and rock climbing. I haven’t had a free weekend in a while…or just hang out with friends.
What car would you love to have?
I’ve always wanted to have a Jeep, the classic Jeep models like Wrangler – so you can do outdoors stuff easier. I haven’t looked into it too much because I haven’t been a car person.
What’s your favorite candy?
I like Sour Patch Kids, or those gummies. I’m not a fan of chocolate.
What is the most beautiful place you’ve been?
There’s an area in the south of Portugal that my girlfriend and I went to a couple of years ago, it’s near Lisbon. It was perfect, there were a bunch of castles, amazing architecture with a lot of Muslim influence from when the area was controlled by the Moors. It has the best beach I’ve ever been to, the rocks were placed in a really cool way because it’s open to the ocean instead of how the Mediterranean is.
What music do you like?
I am a fan of a lot of Indie and Alternative music but I’m basically a fan of anything except for Country. Some Country songs are okay, but the typical song is not my favorite. My roommates and I have a really great sound system so we play all different types of music.
What’s something you’ve done recently that you’re proud of?
My girlfriend is an architecture student and so she has really long days and barely gets any time at home because most of her projects make her go on campus to complete them. A couple of weeks ago she was really stressed and I had enough free time to go and clean her apartment for her and take care of her cat. I guess, I’m not proud of myself for this but I’m proud that I was able to help her. She could come home and not have to worry about all of that – I coordinated with her roommate and surprised her.
Do you have a role model?
I really don’t look up to people as role models, like there’s no single person that I aspire to be. My parents are obviously people that I look up to, and are good role models in a traditional sense. I don’t look at celebrities or famous people as role models just because…
How do you maintain balance in your life?
It’s a surprise to me. I don’t know how I do most of it. Especially coming from high school, I felt like I did everything all in a day and then now I really feel the limited hours in the day. At the beginning of the week, I religiously plan my schedule and mark when assignments need to be started and completed. It’s been a lot better this way compared to my first semester which was just a mess. Usually, at 6, I have dinner and try not to do any other work and just hang out with friends, especially those who speak Chinese because then I can socialize but also practice some of my skills at the same time.
What’s your go-to snack?
I really like fruit. Just having a nice collection of fruits is nice.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
I’m really excited to learn something like Chinese, which is a skill that has almost tangible results. Watching videos that have subtitles, I’m able to pick up that I may not have known certain words yesterday, but I know them today. It’s always nice to see progress and that further motivates me to improve.
How have you changed since high school?
In high school, I was very independent for a lot of things because my parents work a lot. I didn’t have the usual college learning curve or transition. A lot of it was familiar to me but the biggest thing that changed was my study habits. In high school, I didn’t really need to study but I’ve had to learn how to study again.
What pushed you to get your real estate license?
It was never on my radar to go into real estate. Before, I’d always thought it would be nice to own some rental properties, as a passive thing. But I never thought I would be a real estate agent, especially while studying in college. I have a couple of friends who went straight into real estate instead of college, so when I received the invitation to apply, I thought, if they can do it then so can I.
Have you had anything unusual happen while on a tour?
A lot of my tours are pretty tame. I went to one that was a modified house that had 4-5 units in it, but we walk into the room and we realize someone was sleeping on the couch. We startled the girl even though I knocked before entering. Another time, one of my first tours was for a family from Odessa; the kid was an incoming freshman and they came as a family. I drove in their car with them and they ended up inviting me to lunch afterward, and they were saying, “You’re a part of the family now!”, which was funny but just a nice experience to be with this family and help them.
Do you have any favorite properties?
Surprisingly, Delphi is really nice even though they don’t lease quickly, and there’s a massive 6-bedroom apartment in a place off Robbins place that really surprised me too that I liked.
How do you stay motivated in leasing?
It’s really nice to be able to help people find apartments that fit their budget, so whenever they’re able to sign that lease – it’s nice to hear their sigh of relief because they can stop worrying.
Do you have any advice for students looking for housing?
Go and see as many places as you can to get options. It gives me work to do and I enjoy showing units. Getting to explore more of the West and North campus area and seeing everything that it has to offer is a good idea.
What do you enjoy about your job?
I really like the flexibility of it just because being able to work with students inherently means that you have to be really flexible because you have to fit their schedule. I’ll have to do a desk job for internships and such for my business degree, so it’s great to set my hours and how many clients I take on.
Do you think you’ll continue with real estate after graduation?
I’m not sure if I see myself staying in real estate with a traditional agent role. With my major, I would have a lot of work in China – I don’t want to live in China, but having the background in real estate is important because that is one of the more stable investments that Chinese people put their money into. I want to work in environmental restoration jobs, and having a real estate license could be helpful in some way for that.
What do you see for yourself 10 years from now?
I really hope that by the time I’m 30, I have substantially better Chinese skills. Other than that, having a job that doesn’t require me to be in any one place – not necessarily nomadic, but not being stuck in one region. In a consulting job, I’d be able to see a lot of places.