But three weeks into her freshman year at Rutgers, Wei's life changed drastically after the suicide of fellow student Tyler Clementi.
"She feels that everyone is attacking her," a close friend tells PEOPLE after Wei and Clementi's roommate, Dharun Ravi, were charged with two counts of invasion of privacy for allegedly live streaming on the Internet a sexual encounter between Clementi and another man.
Wei's friend also says he has read Facebook comments calling her a monster and saying she deserves to burn in hell.
"She is trying to stay optimistic," he says. "She's really upset about this, she definitely feels bad, and wishes it didn't go the way it did."
If convicted, Wei and Ravi, both pictured in their high school yearbook photos above, face up to five years in prison. But for now, the two have remained silent – and there has been no sign of them or their families for over a week, say neighbors.
According to her friend, Wei is now living the life of a fugitive. "She is going to different places," he says, "because the media is always at her house."
Authorities have also subpoenaed Tyler Clementi's e-mails, a Rutgers spokesman confirmed.
While there are no signs that Ravi and Wei have resumed taking classes at Rutgers, neither of their defense attorneys – nor the university – would comment on their educational status.