Over the past two nights I have had the wonderful opportunity to stay at a home stay with my new friend Tzu-Yang and his family. It makes me smile to reflect back on how I felt and where I was only a few days ago. There was a moment where I felt anxious and very nervous about having to leave the comfort of the people in my program at Mizzou, to stay at the home of a “buddy” I have only exchanged a few emails with and their family. What would I do with my buddy, what would we talk about, and could we communicate effectively, were all questions I had. During my stay, the language barrier was there, and at first Tzu-Yang and his family were strangers, but I can say that this experience has been one of the most impactful and meaningful ones I have had.
The generosity and kindness Tzu-Yang and his family showed to me was incredible and I feel so much gratitude towards them for making me feel like part of the family. Over the past two days I have skyped with his grandma, aunt, brother, cousins, nieces and nephews and it was so comforting to be so far away from my home, but to feel surrounded by family again. Our day was also packed with so many activities, including a walk around a lake, visiting my first temple in Taiwan, a hot spring, and even a brewing company. We also had amazing food, especially a Japanese restaurant close to their home. Amazing!!!
Through this experience I have learned that even with a language barrier there is an ease and value of cross-national friendships. The love and liveliness of their home reminded me of my own and I realized how many similarities we have to share if given the opportunity. I don’t think I could have asked for a better buddy match and he is already someone I consider a friend.