Sunday, October 31, 2010


When you do one thing, another thing has to give a little bit.

Lately I've been into going solo. I've always been the type of person who prefers a small group over a large group of friends. Of course, I don't say no to new friends. And even with me preferring a small group, that doesn't mean I can't enjoy being in a larger group. No, I enjoy it. I understand it. I like it. I just like smaller groups with closer people more. I like not feeling any pressure and knowing exactly what's going on with things. I like knowing everyone's opinion is heard clearly. I'm also the kind of person who likes to be alone sometimes. I need time to recharge and think. I need time to do nothing. I need to be able to wake up on a saturday at 12 pm and spend the whole day in my PJ's watching movies and eating junk food. That's healthy.

Anyway, when I first got here I wanted to meet everyone and try everything. I was willing to spend money to learn about this new place and the new people in my life. I went out almost everyday of the week. Sometimes I went out to two or three parties in one day. And that's just with the exchange students. I also went out, at least twice a week with Taiwanese schoolmates. ...Some people had also been comparing me to last years exchange students telling me about how great they were for seeing every part of Taiwan and going out of the house all the time. So not only did I genuinely want to go out and see Taiwan and meet my new friends, but I also felt pressure to please the people around me and give them what they expected.

But you can't live your life in someone else's movie; it'll drive you crazy.

I had fun, truly going out and seeing people so much. And I'm not giving that up. No way. But I'm slowing it down. I'm not  here to eat dumplings and drink with exchange students. I'm not. I'm here to learn something, finish applying to college, and rest before I start my journey into the "real world." Before, I never had time to study chinese, and I never had time to work on school applications, and I never had time to go out and run simple errands.

The simple fact of the matter is that I am a strong person. I know what I want to do with my life. I have known for years. I have strong relationships in my life I feel completely safe in. Whereas some other exchange students might feel they "must" have a bond with some people around them and so they force it. And this isn't all exchange students, no, I see many that have built real bonds with people around them. Just some seem to feel this pressure to go out all the time and always be with someone, always be doing something. Whatever. I don't feed into that. I would love to have someone here who even came close to my friendships back home, and there actually are a couple who come to mind. But I also feel, friendship should be natural, not just, 'Hey we're stuck in the same place and happen to speak the same language; you're my new bestie.'

I hope you can understand. I am in no way separating myself or saying no to friendship. Nope. I'm just cutting the bullshit. I have plans and goals and I will stick to them. That's why I'm here. A couple years ago my plan was to go abroad and because I didn't get distracted from that plan, here I am. My goals for this year is to take in as much of the culture as I can, learn as much Chinese as a can, learn as much Japanese as I can, apply to college in an organised and unstressful manner, spend money wisely for long term investments, and change my thinking while keeping everything that makes me who I am.

I often get told I need to be open to the Taiwanese culture. Every time I hear it I get really angry. Not because I don't want to be open with the Taiwanese culture, but because I already am. Do you want an example? Okay, this is a good one. I go to a culinary high school here. They asked me if I wanted to work in their school bakery shop. There is no pay and it's real work. You don't even get to eat free usually. My first impulse was American, "Um no way, why would I work serving others if I'm not getting anything?" It had ticked me off that they had acted like they were doing  me some great favor by asking me if I wanted to work without any pay. "Did they think I would jump for joy and thank them for giving me a no pay job?" Those were my American impulses (no way, I didn't really say that). I pride myself on not having many of these moments, however they do surprise me sometimes. That impulse lasted about 1 minute before I put a smile on my face and agreed to try it out. They had seemed so happy about it and although I was unsure about it, what was wrong with doing free labor? It's not like I had anything better to do. The next week I went, I reminded myself that things often end up being worth much more than they seem. Long story short, it's my favorite part of the week. I love it. But, I could have said no way, and never tried it out; or I could have gone and decided I wasn't really going to try because of my preconceived expectations of the notion. But I didn't do that. I lowered my guard and said to myself that I didn't know everything and should give everything a chance. This doesn't make me some super human. But I would really like it if everyone didn't try to belittle and instruct me on things I am already doing.

I've been doing a lot of reading lately. Self improvement is always good and I know I wont have time to read next year. I want to learn so many things.

Anyway, my main point is that I will not feel guilty for only going out with friends once a week. I see them monday to friday anyway. Chinese classes twice a week, school everyday; I get around. And it's not like I'm moping. I go to the library, I go to 7/11, I go to the gym to workout. I am living healthy and balanced. I'm not going to feel guilty over that. I refuse. I will ALWAYS trust my own judgment. Because no one will ever take care of you better than yourself. Expect maybe David taking care of me. He does that well. But my point still holds true mainly.

When you go to another country, sometimes you will feel like you are losing yourself. It's one thing to change naturally and healthily, and a different thing to give up who you are for approval. Don't ever let it be the latter. Be open, yes; that's key. But also don't be afraid of being who you are.

I have to go now. School time.


  1. Well said Michelle! Yes, be yourself; don't change as that is the person we all know and love. I like knowing you see things very objectively and will tell me an honest opinion. You are special- stay that way. :) Love you, Mom

  2. You should really consider writing a relationship advice book yourself. "You stupid piece of shit, who do you think you are? Do you think changing yourself to fit the requirements of your 'greater half' is going to make you happier? Are you satisfied being a worthless fake puppet? I hope you are. Have fun bending to his every need. That's the only fun you'll have anyways." At least hopefully I got the tone right. Maybe some of the content is more what I would put ;D Anyways, I don't mean to poke fun at this post in any way, as it's probably my favorite. Write more of these onegai!!!! m(_ _)m

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  4. I'm sure you don't check this anymore, but I've enjoyed stalking through your blog and I just wanted to say, I absolutely love the last paragraph in this post. I think every exchange student should see that before deciding to go on exchange.

  5. @Kyla,

    I do read comments and think about the blog often. I had to take it off the internet for a year because of outside pressure, but I decided even if I didn't have the time to finish it up, it could still help people in the meantime.

    Stalking is fun. I'm flattered that would stalk my blog. Hahaha, but really, you comment means a lot to me. Thank you for taking the time to write it out. I felt it was an important thing to say as well. Too often the people in charge neglect to care about this point. In many countries it wouldn't be a problem, but in some places, it's really something that needs to be reinforced. Students get a lot of pressure to bend at every end.

    Anyway, I do plan to finish up this blog and conclude it but it's on the back burner for now.