Why did you decide to study in the USA?
I came to the USA to learn American Sign Language, Deaf Education, sign language interpreter regulations, and everything I could about Deaf culture and the community. I would like to bring all these experiences back to Taiwan in order to improve our education, interpreting, facilities, and welfare for deaf people.
Why did you choose this particular college or university? What attracted you about your school? Please mention such factors as location, reputation, courses offered. What is special about your school and its location?
I chose Golden West College because they have experienced faculty and a very professional American Sign Language interpreting program. Besides, the campus is located near the beach in the city of Huntington Beach - which is a great place to relax on the weekends.
What do you like best about your program or university?
I like our campus because of its exuberant plants and trees.
What do you miss most about home?
What was your biggest surprise about U.S. life and education?
There are many homeless people and many of them look young (I mean they don’t look like they are of retirement age) and they have no visible physical disabilities. The biggest surprise about education here is that there are diversities of people in color and age on campus, which is amazing. In Asia, if you are married or over 25, and you still go to college or university, you may feel isolated in the classes or on campus. Other students might give you weird looks. I feel comfortable studying in the USA because people don’t treat me differently because of my age.
... your biggest disappointment?
Customer service! It’s bad and not friendly especially the telephone company customer service. I always need to repeat many times about my requirements to different people because they transfer my call many times. And most of them don’t offer service over the weekend.
How have you handled:
... language differences?
I always go to the English tutoring service and the English Conversation Lab on campus in the Learning Resources Center to improve my English. Besides that, I try to attend as many events as I can so that I can practice my speaking and listening.
I use my own personal savings to pay everything here, so I’m very thrifty. Luckily, I received scholarships from the college last year and I found a part-time job on campus. Those can’t cover all the expenses, but they still help me mitigate my financial obligations.
... adjusting to a different educational system?
There are so many group discussions and projects which are so different from our educational settings in Taiwan, but there are also many advantages which I like. Every instructor provides their syllabus at the beginning of the semester, so I know what I can expect to learn, as well as the schedule of the class. Also, most instructors will ask you to read the textbook and then give you quizzes to make sure you’re following the schedule. It’s very stressful, but I feel I learn a lot afterward, no matter the subject or the English level.
What are your activities? (clubs, sports, student associations, travel, homestay programs, special activities or trips sponsored by your program)
I joined different clubs such as the International Club, the Honor Society, and Alpha Gamma Sigma (AGS). I often go to different events and perform volunteer work to immerse myself in the culture and make new friends.
How easy or difficult is making friends in the USA?
It’s always easy to meet new friends, but if you are talking about making friends whom you will keep in touch with, most friends of mine are from Asia (Japan, Vietnam, and China), or people who are familiar with diverse cultures. I think the main reason is cultural disparity. If you want to make local, American friends, unless you are super extroverted, very familiar with American culture, or you meet one who understands about Asian culture, it’s pretty hard to to make one.
What are your career goals? How is your U.S. education relevant to your personal goals and to the needs of your country?
I will go back to Taiwan and work on improving the education system for deaf people and share what I’ve learned through my experiences volunteering at schools for the deaf and different sign language interpreting events. That’s the reason I came to U.S. I also want to build up a bridge (a network) encouraging deaf people in Taiwan to come to the U.S. or to visit other countries to learn about the various cultures and to meet different hearing and deaf people.
What is your advice to other students from your country who are considering a U.S. education?
Write down the reason and your goal for coming to the U.S. and stick it on wherever you can see it to remind yourself as you move forward. It’s very easy to lose sense of your goal when you feel upset or frustrated because family and friends are far from us. Volunteering is a good way to practice English and make friends. Try to socialize with different people instead of sticking with people who came from your home country. You have many opportunities to further your knowledge and have experiences in the U.S. that will change your life.