I was extremely busy during my freshman year. My friend ND got me a part time job working at the university snack/photocopy shop as a photocopy girl. I was so excited about that job because that was where the PhyEd students hang out. Hahahaa… I got to meet all the famous national baseball players from my hometown Chia-Yi. (I should have asked all of them for the autographs.) Where I worked was right under the auditorium and right next to the building of Students’ Centre. So, I could go to the Club and hang out with my pals before my class or after work.
I might not be the smartest student but I sure did work hard, at least to the best of my ability. I hang out at the library a lot. To be honest, the first year was a bit of a culture shock for any freshmen at the English Department. Remember, we did not grow up learning English at a very young age. In fact, language centres for young children were unheard of when we were young. Suddenly, we were put in a full English immersion setting and had all these foreign instructors and professors teaching us in English. It definitely took a while for all of us to get used to it.
My favourite course was Linguistics. Our instructor was a very interesting character who was not too much older than we were. I think he just graduated from the grad school at Fu Jen. He certainly introduced me to a very important stage of my English learning as well as the realm of English rock music. I got to listen to the first album of the bands, America, Eagles and W.A.S.P., when a group of us visited his home in Shih Lin. The instructor for our Conversation class, a Philippino Chinese, was big into another band, Air Supply’s music. She used to tell us to listen to their songs because the band sang each and every word so clearly that it would be easy for us to understand. It is very interesting that I officially stepped into the pop rock music at this time.
One subject that I enjoyed a lot but also had the most difficulty with was the Introduction to English Literature. I still remember when we went through Beowulf in class with the professor who was a Catholic nun, it was such a torture for us to struggle through the old English text because it was simply beyond our freshman reading level at the time. I almost gave up right then. (Thank Goodness, the frustration did not kill my passion for Jane Austen. Hahaha)
I started getting involved more and more with other extracurricular activities at school. I helped organized the class outings and parties with the other classes, the inter-department events and later students association. My parents hardly saw me that year because I was always out and never home. School became my job, my study and my leisure. Home was like a hotel to me. It was simply a place to stay for the night. I learned a lot, made a lot of good friends and paved the road for my study in the next few years.
All the effort I put towards the club, the part time job and my school work was finally paid off a year later. I was elected to be the president of the club. Based on my involvement in the club, I was able to apply and was later granted a scholarship at school. Along with a government student loan, finally I was able to be financially independent to pay for my own tuition from then on.
I was also given an opportunity to attend a special elite leadership camp where I made a few more good friends from universities all over Taiwan. A few months after the camp, I somehow got a letter from a youth corp. inviting me to attend another training session to become a group leader for their summer youth program. The opportunity later turned out to be just like a dream came true.
To be continued