Elite American Youth Leader Camp
Asia University, Taiwan
Studying abroad has been one of the boldest choices in my life so far. I left the United States of America for nearly two months, uncertain of what awaited me at Taiwan’s Asia University. Upon my arrival I was relieved to see a large sign that said “University of Hawaii at Hilo” on it. After two or more hours on a bus we arrived at our host campus and were greeted by other Americans that had arrived earlier in the day and the teaching aids (TA), which were to be our lifelines for those 6 weeks. That evening I met my roommate, Gentle, and his name is pronounced like the adjective! The next morning, it was if he had amnesia, for he re-introduced himself to me.
At first, I wouldn’t leave the campus without the companionship of a TA. I relied heavily upon them to tell us what bus to take, translating, and to prevent me from getting lost. However after the third week or so, my Mandarin skills had improved and I felt confident enough to explore the city on my own. I think this experience taught me how to interact with people in a non-verbal manner. Although our large vocabulary proved useful at times, we weren’t exactly fluent. This required that I learn the cultural gestures as well as stepping outside of my comfort zone to get what I needed.
I believe the most memorable experience for me would have to be my trip to Taroko Gorge. We spent 10 hours on a one way train to the East side of Taiwan, to hike a gorge whose beauty was comparable to that of the Grand Canyon. After arriving to Hualien at 1:00 am, my traveling partners and I looked for a place to stay. We wandered around for a couple hours or so until we finally found an over priced and old place to stay. We slept there for approximately three and a half hours and then were up again walking to the central station. After about a two hour bus ride to the gorge, we finally arrived and started what was to be an unforgettable hike. The scenery was breathtaking, for lack of a better word. It was defiantly a memory I will hold for the rest of my life.
I think that I have learned a lot about myself and my personality while I was in Taiwan. I got a chance to really take myself out of the American culture and be worry-free. I learned that I like to take risks, be adventuresome, and travel on my own. I really believe studying abroad was one of the best decisions I made in my life and I gained a lot of memories which will be with me for many years to come! I would like to send a special thank you out to Dean Marcia Sakai and Carolina Lam for their efforts in organizing this program. I’m sure the program will thrive in the years to come.