"Hi, I'm Joy from Taiwan! Nice to meet you!"
This was one of my first impression of uwc and the sentence which you keep repeating through the first two weeks. It sounds quite simple and "normal", but thinking back now I find it quite special and unique in some ways, because honestly, who would ever introduce him or herself like this back in my school days in Taiwan? At least I would never say so. I remember I would always say "Hi I'm Tsunleh, I enjoy listening to music, reading novels and watching movies, and my hobbies are swimming, biking and many other outdoor activities, nice to meet you all". As the scenario changes into rcn (red cross Nordic), I don't longer say those things I'm interested in or those which I adore, the only thing I talk about is the place where I am from, the place where I belong to! And that, gives all the other people their first impression of me. Therefore, whenever someone or the teachers want to describe you, the quickest and easiest way for them to say would be "the girl from Taiwan", not the girl who likes to do what or who's good at something. You are indeed still yourself (as always), but in many other times, you become so much more than just yourself, you automatically become the person who represents your country since the very first day and time when you meet with someone else.
Frankly speaking, I do not think that I'm qualified enough to represent all of the Taiwanese (or more accurately, the Taiwanese girls), that is a bit too much and uncertain, however, the only Taiwanese they see here or they've ever seen might just be us! And there are still quite a few people who don't have that much impression of Taiwan, which sometimes makes "us" become their first impression! It is understandable why people think like that as it's also what I think of when I meet with others, but still sometimes it gives you an invisible pressure, for you start to realize that whatever you do, speak or act might not only represent your own character, but more often can be related to "what the Taiwanese do".
Nevertheless, there are so much more exciting and inspiring things you could ever imagine to experience apart from what I just mentioned, I hope that what I talked about didn't freak you out or make you feel pressured while you were reading it. As through my reflections, I started to realize that maybe this is a task that everyone will face whenever they start their "studying abroad" journey, and there's an interesting fact that we still have those times when people just simply get too used to the reality that everyone surrounding you are all so diverse, and you sometimes totally forget that the person right next to you might be a person coming from an absolutely different world and culture from yours!
There's one thing that I'd like to share though I'm not sure about how others think about it, but speaking from my own perspective, there is something quite amazing that happens during your time here, which is you actually start to gain more courage to accept yourself and your identity from how you did before you came here. I'm unsure about the exact reason, but perhaps it's because back home, people all have quite similar backgrounds and statuses, so we turn out to be prone to frequently compare and judge each other. But when you're here, you will have the feeling that you are allowed and encouraged to be who you are and whom you want to become! You start to truly comprehend the fact that everyone's background is really different in terms of family conditions, economic statuses, the education we've received and the path that we've been through. Everyone is already so different when they arrived, so there's no need to compare yourself that much with someone else. Instead, you'll start to learn to accept the "you" who you already are, and afterwards, become even more humble and open minded to appreciate your differences between one another and be willing to learn more from the good work of others.
One of my favourite day of this term was when we held the Asian Day! When we could prepare our Taiwanese bazaar and use the chance to share with others our own culture. It was such a pleasure to see how people enjoyed bubble milk tea and looked into their "traditional" Chinese name. That day, instead of caring about the political issues, we all knew the purpose was to introduce the differences of ourselves, and that was the time when you could really feel how people can put aside discrepancies between cognitions, and appreciate each other's uniqueness.
Despite experiencing the different lifestyle and enjoying remarkable moments, academics still plays an important role in the daily life here. Since I've only experienced the first term here, I surely haven't gone through the "great big challenges", yet coming from the traditional educational system in Taiwan, I've never done all of my subjects in English before. Transforming everything into English sometimes still takes time, especially for those technical words which you are unfamiliar with. The good news is despite the intensive IB course, due to the fact that we're allowed to make our own choices for the subjects makes it not as excessive as how we had to learn that many subjects back home.
To make a long story short, I'd like to use these sixteen words to mark my "first term journey"!
Sunny, rainy, snowy, foggy,
Moody, happy, crazy, loving
Hiking, swimming, kayaking, diving
Breathing, risking, challenging, enjoying
The marvellous and adventurous journey hasn't ended, and maybe I think it is time to welcome my second term here now!!
4 days ago