Dora Yang (Yang Ting-Ru) was an exchange student at UO from 2014 to 2015. After she finished a year program and returned back home to Taiwan, she realized the journey in Oregon had a tremendous impact on her life.
After a year of life in Oregon, I came back to Taiwan for my senior year of college. At first, I was surprised that I didn’t have a hard time fitting into my culture after a year when I sank into a totally different one. Actually it was a common myth for those who travel abroad for a while then have an anticipation of being incompatible once they got back. That’s why I was confused at that time. As I started school and became a Taiwanese student again, I felt more and more uncomfortable that I couldn’t fit in the environment like before. I realized I’m somewhat different from others. After I talked with some friends, they said the same. I finally understood, even though it took me 5 months to prove it, and I’m still content with this answer. Yes, I’m a different person after my journey in the U.S last year.
Apparently, I can’t always get the important message right from what I was doing until after or maybe until someone reminds me of it. I applied for ISAB (International Student Advisory Board) in the first term abroad. Even though it might be terrifying, I believed that I could learn something new and make some cool friends there. By the end of year, I got much more than that. Not only the friendship, but also the information of being in an international-friendly school. I felt supported from the school, the staffs and the students around me. It empowered me to follow my heart, to make whatever change I would like to see. It was hard to do when I was a student in Asia. Since I had the chance to study in the U.S, everything just changed, and that was definitely amazing.
I also had the “educational shock” in my beginning period of school. I was suffering from discussing with classmates, presenting my personal view in the class, speaking foreign language in the class and lots of reading assignments to do. That was so hard for me that my classmates maybe didn’t notice. I couldn’t perform as well as other students. Most of time, the only thing I could say during discussion was “uhm… I don’t know”, and it made me so frustrated. Luckily, I met Risa, she was also an exchange student but from Japan. We shared our similar hard time in the class, talked about the cultural differences and our similarities, and participated in different events to relax from the stress such as joining Coffee hour and ExplOregon events, watched the sport games, went to the concert… and so on. We were so appreciated and we had lots of memories in U of O, whether unpleasant or pleasant, we made it through the hard time and became close friends. I didn’t hate my classes, instead, I loved them so much. I was improving by learning, finally, I loved the environment in the class, the interaction between professor and students, I loved the ideas we came up with after discussion. I loved to speak French in my 1st Year French class, I loved to visit my professor at office hour to figure out something I missed during the class. Those chances were so precious that I rarely had in Taiwan.
Moreover, the friendships I have built there were the most precious gift I had in my life. When I was not familiar with the local environment and culture first I arrived in the state, my temporary host family was so hospitable to me. As I moved into the dorm, my roommate and most of my dorm-mates nicely talked to me or invited me to the dinner and the movie night. During the year, the international friends I met and the classmates who helped me in the class were so supportive that it made me feel like I was not alone in Oregon. Especially to the friends who hosted me during my backpacking trip for one month before I officially left the U.S. in summer, I took various transportations to 5 different places in OR and CA. Once I arrived at each place, they picked me up, showed me around and welcomed me like their family were absolutely heart-warming and unforgettable memories. Those touching, challenging, and satisfying memories bring me to the reality now: why can’t I experience the same enjoyment in my home country? The answer would be yes, I can experience the same, or even more fabulous actually. All because I’m on the way to be a better person every day by accumulating various experiences. The fabulous ones in the last year won’t fade away, because it already became an essential component of my life. I won’t change myself to fit in an environment that I don’t like, I will only be my true self to gain the opportunity I deserve and take advantage of being different from others. It will always remind me who I am.
Wish you have a great time wherever you are and Go Ducks!