So what will I start off with? The weather? The school? The spirit? The college town? The people? As an international student, everything was so new to my college experience. Ever since middle school, my parents had planted the seed in my head of studying abroad. I wanted a new experience. I was frightened and excited at the same time. I was scared I would not meet people at orientation, would not make friends in class, or would be paired with a weird roommate (or maybe I would be the weird roommate haha!)
It turned out that it wasn’t too hard to make friends. Other than the comforting feeling of knowing there are 500+ equally terrified internationals here with me (okay maybe not comforting), I learned that everyone was just as nervous as me and just as eager to meet new friends! I am happy to say that every part of my freshman year was memorable and rewarding. I learned about the school, the country, the culture, and new people. I have no regrets.
The weather, though, was both better and worse than I expected. To explain what I mean, I must first tell you where I am from. I come from Taipei, Taiwan. Taiwan is a little island that floats between Japan and the Philippines. Technically speaking, Taiwan is in a subtropical area; in other words, there is NO snow in Taiwan and there is not much of a spring or fall. Of course, I was very excited to come to Michigan. I would get to experience snow and could to brag about it to my friends back in Taiwan. Experiencing fall was also a very pleasant experience. I am a dedicated photographer and can say I stacked up my photo album with endless colorful fall photos. During the 2013 winter though (when I was a freshman), Ann Arbor went through a historically frigid, record-breaking winter. But, what can I say? I love it!
The weather is not the only thing that has summed up my experience. In fact, the emphatic school spirit is a large part of the Michigan experience. Back in Taiwan, we never really had a big thing for colleges and universities. School spirit or rivalries were not very intense. My first year when I first got to feel the a-Maize-ing school spirit, I was stunned and exhilarated. You could say it was a bit of a culture shock, but I got to learn about football games, tailgating, the fight song, and so much more. As a freshman, I grew to be as proud of my school as my fellow Wolverines, and I truly felt like I was part of this community. This unforgettable camaraderie is unique to Michigan. Not every college in the States is able to establish this kind of special bond.
Reflecting on my out-of-stater experience, it was never too frightening. It was simply a process of settling, adjusting, and then eventually calling this place my second home.