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“Hi! My name is Kittie. Nice to meet you.” The first sentence written in my very first English textbook has literally become the prologue to begin with when meeting new friends. A 21 years old Asian exchange student from Taiwan, I have been here for almost a month.
I’m surprised that so many people here are so interested in my nickname “Kittie”. ‘I’ve never met anyone with a name like this!’ is probably one of the most common opinions I’ve heard. Well, I used to complain to my mom for picking up such a funny name for me. “Why not? It’s adorable!” She replied, “and it’s catchy as well.” I can’t believe I’m saying this right now, but she was right. I’ve met new friends from all around the globe almost every day, and most of them are still be able to recognize me as well as my name the next time we meet.
This is my first time in Europe. In fact, it is my first time in a Western country. We don’t really have chances to make friends with Westerners in Taiwan, so it is a very new and exciting adventure for me to study here. I’ve got to admit that it was pretty scary at first. All of my flatmates are Westerners, I feared that my English might not be as fluent as theirs, and that the cultural differences might be a problem for us to chat. The thing is, I realised I worried too much. I’ve always been an outgoing person, who is always willing to make many new friends. It is that kind of personality that allows me to be open-minded and fearless. I became good friends with people I met quickly, and I truly like them from the bottom of my heart.
Cultural Differences: Fresher’s Week
College life here is so much different from Taiwan. The biggest difference is the way students welcome freshers. In Taiwan, we often have a welcome 4-day camp, which means that we live in countryside or farms for several days, and we hold activities like tournaments or field games for freshers.
Here, however, it’s all about parties. In the fresher’s week, I went to clubs for parties and drinking with my flatmates every single night. There are plenty of good clubs in town, and what I like the most about them is that they aren’t expensive at all. Even the alcohol seems so cheap to me. I lived Taipei, the capital of Taiwan. There, we need to pay at least £10 just for the entrance fee, and alcohol costs more than £5 a drink. That’s why college students in Taiwan seldom go to clubs – but let’s get back to the topic! I really enjoy going to parties since it’s a perfect chance to meet new friends, and it’s the most direct way to blend into local students’ lives here.
Dare to try every possibility
All of my friends know that I suck at dancing, but the frequency of dancing these weeks is far more than I’ve been used to. I love it! Trying new things makes my exchange life colourful. I even learned salsa, which I’d never get the chance to learn in Asia. I joined many societies as well. I’m 21 right now, which means I’ll graduate soon after going back to Taiwan. Finding a good job in Taiwan is a difficult task since there are an abundance of students graduated per year (we have a HUGE population), and it’s an extremely competitive environment. In addition, many employers in our country don’t provide adequate wage for graduates, which is why I felt so surprised when I heard that the average wage in the UK ranges from 18k per year. This is almost impossible in my country. As a result, joining some of the career and business based societies has really helped me enrich my life and time here in many aspects. I attended speeches as well as meeting new people from different departments. I volunteered being a Mandarin teacher in one society as well. It’s my very first time teaching my own language, and I look forward to future classes.
Ultimately there are too many still unexplored things waiting for me. I appreciate the kindness and beauty of students here. I can’t wait to experience more!