Today. It’s 11:33am. I. Am. Heartbroken.
But wait, the story is getting ahead of us—let’s rewind the clock to three weeks ago, when the first of the nineteen Taiwanese students arrived at Florida Tech as part of the American Studies Institute: Taiwan 2012 program. The students hailed from a variety of universities across Taiwan, ranging in age from 18 to 25, and arrived at the Melbourne International Airport eager to study American culture.
For three weeks, the students spent from 9:30 to 4:00 studying American Foreign Policy, Modern American History, and American Popular Culture. In the evenings, we tried to give them a taste of average American life, and the highlights particular to Melbourne, Florida, which included trips to the movies, a baseball game, Andretti Thrill-Park, Funtown, and dinners out at The Mansion, Meg O’Malleys, Planet Hollywood, Steak and Shake, IHOP, and Squid Lips. We tried to keep the weekends busy with cultural excursions to places like St. Augustine, Palm Beach, the Kennedy Space Center, Wonderworks, and Universal Studios.
The three weeks flew by before I could even blink, and we arrive at today–the last of the students returned to Taiwan yesterday, and thus, I am heartbroken. This must be what “Empty-Nest Syndrome” feels like.
I did not think it was possible to connect with such a wide variety of people only in three weeks, but I was completely mistaken! By the last day, we had become family, and participating in the ASI: Taiwan program has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. What made it so special? I don’t know—it’s difficult to pinpoint it exactly. I think it was the right mixture of people, at the right place, at the right time. Things I will miss the most: when you try to take a picture of one or two people, everyone jumps in, so a picture always turns into a group photo; an exercise dance they taught me called “cut the fat dance” (that made me sore for days!); how they always brought food and snacks to share; and the games we played while waiting at a restaurant. I miss how every day was an adventure, and most of all, I miss my new friends—Yellow, Ivy, Cindy, Verona, Angel, Demi, Standley, David, Peter, Dennis, Denny, Victor, Joyce, Pauline, Jo, Lisa, Melissa, Villa, and Ken!
By Kate Broderick, Master’s Student and Student Services Coordinator. Kate helped host the American Studies Institute: Taiwan program at Florida Tech. The American Studies Institute is a three-week intensive study of American culture, history, and foreign policy offered to undergraduate and graduate students of Taiwan.