U.S.A, the country of freedom, is where I spent my exchange student year with tons of experiences. I have been to several countries for study abroad programs, but I have never been away from home for this long. I was hoping that I can go to a place on the west coast, or the east coast of the U.S. such as LA, NYC, etc. However, I ended up in Syracuse, Kansas. I still remember the first thought that I had when I saw Kansas on the plane was "What kind of trouble did I get myself into?" And the first thought I had when I knew there are only 16 students in my school was "I am so out of here." But I told myself that I can't retreat because the environment doesn't fit me. I came all the way to the U.S. to experience different environments, so what I should do is to let me fit the environment.
Too much expectation often brings students down when they find out that the situation isn't like they thought. I could barely bear the disappointment when I found the truth that Syracuse, Kansas, is so small (approximately 1,800 people). It was a huge shock for a person that has lived in a big city for 15 years. I eventually overcame the difficulty and discovered good things about small towns. I found out that determination and patience are needed to solve every problem, and they sure helped me through any kind of problem while I was in the U.S. Life in the U.S. is very exciting for me because there were always new challenges. Every day is a whole new experience and every challenge is different from the previous one. I had many precious and unforgettable experiences during the year.
I concluded what I learned into three major points: First, it is very common for Americans to see foreigners. Because of that, exchange students are nothing special but simply people trying to accomplish their own American Dream. Because of that, I focused on conveying the many positive attributes of Taiwan to a people that might not otherwise learn. Second, selfishness and childishness are not going to do any good. Independence, responsibility and respect are required for a remarkable year. Third, but not least, students need humility and confidence at the same time. Be humble to receive, but be confident to give when exchanging cultures. I hope these valuable techniques will help future exchange students with their year in the U.S.
Exchange students have the responsibility to bring positive influences into the community. I am proud that I tried my best to learn about the U.S. and to introduce Taiwan. I appreciate Ayusa and I am thankful that I had the chance to be an exchange student. Maybe the processes weren't smooth, but the fruit of achievement will always be the sweetest.