Olivia is from Tallahassee, Florida and is participating in the NSLI-Y Chinese Academic Year program in Taiwan.
Wow! I can’t believe it’s already the end of April! When I applied for NSLI-Y, I never thought ten months would feel like too short of an exchange. There are many things about my life in Taiwan that I’ll miss, because so many of my experiences have made my life fuller. These last few months, my only goal has been to not miss any opportunities, because when I return to America, I don’t want to regret anything. Recently I’ve been going to more places in Kaohsiung I’ve never been before, and I’m not quite as shy as I used to be with my Taiwan friends. Because of this, I feel like my thoughts have become clearer. In Taiwan, I’ve realized that I don’t want work to be my main life goal; I wasn’t born just to make money. Now I’m starting to ask myself, outside of working and studying hard, what things makes me happy? I’ve also been thinking about what aspects of my life in Taiwan have made me the happiest. I hope that after I return home, I won’t forget why my life here has been so happy, so I’ve written a few of those aspects down here!
哇! 已經四月底了! 申請NSLI-Y的時候, 我沒想到十個月會這麼短。我會想念我的台灣生活, 因為這些經驗讓我的人生變得更豐富。這幾個月, 我只有一個目標, 就是我不想錯過任何機會, 因為我回國以後不想要後悔, 所以最近想去很多高雄沒去過的地方, 跟台灣朋友相處也沒有那麼害羞了。因為在台灣生活的經驗, 我的想法變得更清楚了。在台灣, 我發現了工作不一定是我生活裡最重要的部分, 我不是為了工作賺錢而出生的。現在我問我自己, 除了工作讀書以外, 甚麼事情可以讓我感到開心? 我也有想到在台灣生活的甚麼部分讓我最開心, 希望我回國以後不會忘記為甚麼我在台灣這麼開心, 所以我寫下了在台灣開心的理由。
The most important part of my happiness in Taiwan has been, of course, my host family. My host family makes me so, so happy. When I was preparing to come to Taiwan, my host family was the thing I was the most nervous about. I didn’t know whether our personalities would fit well together, or if it would be really be possible for me to join another family’s household. I never thought that having a host family would be the most special aspect of my experience in Taiwan. Even when my sentences are totally incoherent, my host family is still willing to interact with me. I feel like we’ve developed a real family relationship; there are many times when talking with them feels like talking with my natural family, and I can tell that they really care about me. In America, I only had older siblings, so I really like having two little sisters. Although they’re a bit noisy sometimes, I really like playing and talking with them. I never thought I would be a big sister, but as it turns out I really enjoy it.
最重要的部分當然是我的接待家庭, 他們讓我在台灣的生活很開心。我準備來台灣的時候, 接待家庭是我最緊張的部分, 因為不知道我們的個性合不合得來, 也不知道我要怎麼變成別人家庭成員的一部分, 沒想到接待家庭是我在台灣最特別的經驗! 就算我說中文説得不太清楚, 接待家庭也願意跟我聊天。
Another thing that has made me happy in Taiwan is my NSLI-Y classmates, who have definitely made my life here better. We are from different places, families, and experiences, but I think that our personalities fit really well together. Of course, I enjoy hanging out with them, but more importantly I feel that we really do mutually support each other. One person’s success often feels like a success for all of us. Although I love Taiwan, the culture here is very different, so sometimes it’s nice to complain to other Americans, especially if I’m feeling homesick. Moreover, we can also share with other the excitement that we feel in Taiwan. Having my American classmates’ support has definitely improved my experience in Taiwan。
The third thing has been the Wenzao community. My Wenzao friends make me really happy. At first I found it really hard to make Taiwanese friends, because Taiwanese students seem a bit more shy than their American counterparts, and moreover, many people were excited to use English but not really willing to practice Chinese with me. Since my Chinese has improved recently, it’s become easier to use Chinese to express my ideas and make friends. Recently, I’ve been making more friends through clubs. In October, I joined the Glee Club at Wenzao hoping to make new friends. Although I struggled at first, now I can really chat and joke around with other club members. At first, I was everyone’s “foreign friend,” but now I’m just everyone’s regular friend. Our performance is at the end of May, so we’ve been practicing more and more. I’m not worried though, because we always have a great time together.
The final aspect is the balanced life I’ve developed here in Taiwan. I don’t know if it’s because of Taiwanese culture, or because I’ve grown up over the past year, or because my ideas and thoughts are now half American, half Taiwanese. In reality, it’s probably a mix of all of these things. One change has been that I’ve found better ways to incorporate health and nutrition into my daily life; I feel like in Taiwan, although I still eat what I want, I eat healthier here, because I know if I don’t, my body definitely won’t like it. I don’t love exercise, but I’ve grown accustomed to it here, because I know it will improve my health and also my mood. I’m from a comparatively rural area of America, so before, I never really paid attention to finding a balance between city and country life. I definitely pay attention to it here though, and I regularly look for parks and nature to relax a little. Although these things don’t really have a direct relationship with Taiwan, my experiences with Taiwanese culture are the reason for these changes. I think Taiwanese culture really values balance in all aspects of your life, and from observing the lives of Taiwanese people, I’ve had the chance to decide what kind of life I want for myself. After I return to America, I hope to continue living a balanced life, including balancing health and happiness, school and friends, earning money and finding joy.
最後一個部分是台灣生活的平衡。不知道是因為台灣的文化, 還是因為我在台灣成長了很多, 或是因為我現在一半是美國人， 一半是台灣人，這三個因素應該都對我有影響。
My life here in Taiwan makes me really happy, so when I go home, I’m definitely going to miss Taiwan. However, I know that because of my Taiwanese family, friends, and experiences, my American life will also become fuller and happier.
我在台灣的生活讓我非常開心, 所以我回美國以後, 一定會想念台灣, 可是我知道我在台灣的家庭、