This I Believe

Kang-Hung - Lexington, Virginia
Entered on September 25, 2006

This I believe

I am an exchange student from a Chinese military academy now studying at the Virginia Military Institute. Growing up in Taiwan, I worked hard, had decent grades and good discipline, so I got this chance to study abroad. Every day I hoped this chance would come. But after I got to America, I bumped into lots of problems, such as the language barrier, ethnic prejudice, and trying to adjust to the different lifestyle. I keep reminding myself: I come from Taiwan; I represent my country and my family, who love me and expect much from me. “I can’t let them down,” I tell myself. I believe in reward, but with this come sacrifice and effort, just like the saying: “As you sow, so shall you reap.”

I was very confident of myself before I came here, but everything changed. I started wondering why I was here. I used to have daydreams: I was thinking maybe one day I could be a crew member or a sailor who could have his own boat sailing in the ocean and traveling around the world. But now I have no time to daydream. I am busy every day. I have had to get used to the different lifestyle, different weather, a different language barrier, and sometimes I have had put up with about Asian kids ethnic stereotype. I want to prove myself; I don’t want to be looked down on by anyone. I want to give the VMI challenge a try and do my best. So I have sacrificed some of my sleeping time, weekends, even the playing time even with my close friends. Every day is just like a circle: class, meal time, physical training, study, and sleep. All my effort and some of my sleeping time have become a price to pay for a chance to succeed.

Few people at VMI know how hard the study or the training is for a foreigner, and they all demand that I do the same physical training and academic work as everybody else. At first I couldn’t overcome this problem or the others that I faced. But I couldn’t quit; my country supports me to study abroad, paying the tuition fee for me. If I quit, my parents have to take the responsibility to repay the entire tuition fee. So despite my initial difficulties, I have continued to work hard. Day by day, time passes away and I am still hanging in there. I haven’t quit; on the contrary I have overcome those issues of studying in a foreign country. After one academic year, I have attained a rank in my class, my grades are above average, and I also achieved a good physical condition. Otherwise, I use my occasional leisure time to make friends, to learn more about American different culture, and also expand my view of life.

I still remember vividly the sign in the barracks study room: “Success doesn’t come to you, you go to it.” I believe that is the right attitude of life, just like I believe in the power of potential energy. Make an effort, try to do the best you can until the end, and surely you will get something that is already there and belongs to you.