Written by Nikole Nguyen, (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) Student Correspondent CET Taiwan, Summer 2018
Time to yourself is nice, but it is something that you can have too much of. A normal weekend for me at home was being cooped up in my room, studying, seeing the same four walls and seeing the same people. In a way, being able to study abroad was a way for me to break this chain of monotony.
But what about when the same thing happens overseas? I found myself spending almost an entire Saturday in my dorm room, before I realized that I wasn’t going to be in Taiwan for much longer, and that all of those hours spent cooped up will never return to me again.
I think anyone who recharges their energy alone is like this. Sometimes, you spend a dozen hours thinking of your mistakes and all of the things you could have done better. Other times, you’re tired of company and you look for time to recover alone, only to realize that this is time you’ll never get back, and that you may never see some of your new friends again.
The realization that this experience won’t last is a sudden and painful one; even more so when you are the sort of person who keeps to themselves. I only have a handful of advice to give to those who are the susceptible to isolating themselves from others.
To the student who revels in solitude: be open to meeting new people. At the very least, your worldview will broaden. It is important to know that the friends that you make are circumstantial miracles. Of all the people in the world, you ended up here with a handful of others that you would never have met otherwise.
Don’t take this time for granted; these are people you may never meet again. Take every opportunity to spend time with them before the end of the program, because the regret that creeps up on you will be painful.
To the student who fears loneliness: it’ll happen. You will have days where the language barrier is too much, or days when you should have done better. Days where you could have done better. There are days when your friends’ words can’t reach you, no matter how much you open up, no matter how much they try.
The only comfort I can give you is that this is temporary; this feeling will not last forever. Remember that you are here now—you are here in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, taking advantage of a rare and special opportunity that typically doesn’t happen twice.
You’re the envy of many right now. Revel in the moment and make sure you won’t forget it.