It’s Never Too Late to Study Abroad

Written by Niklas Gamble (University of Minnesota), Student Correspondent for CET Taiwan, Summer 2024

Studying abroad is one of the highlights of entering into adulthood for many college students. I have met so many twenty, thirty, and forty-somethings who fondly recall their study abroad adventures. For them, it’s always been spoken of as a distant, formative memory, now long behind them—one that I deeply envied. Fresh out of high school, I missed out on the typical university experience. It was simply not affordable, and I had underwhelming grades with no formal extracurricular achievements to win me any scholarships. I graduated, and I dove right into work while in pursuit of a two-year Associate’s degree.

Now, I’m back in college as a transfer student and am making up for lost time. I didn’t imagine studying abroad would still be available to me, coming back into the game this late. It was a surprise to me when a professor at my home university encouraged me to apply to study abroad. It was also a surprise to me when CET accepted my application. Though there are no restrictions on age, I thought for sure that I was well out of the norm and that my application might be rejected. Thankfully, it was not.

A CET Taiwan student standing in front of a large LOVE sign outside of Taipei 101
Me trying not to pose awkwardly (and failing) in front of the LOVE sign outside of Taipei 101, after CET classmates encouraged me to go and pose.

So then came the anxieties that come with anticipating not fitting in. It was less that I was afraid of not fitting in cross-culturally, but rather, cross-generationally. I shared these worries with an advisor through CET. It was confirmed that I might be the oldest student in the program. I was, and perhaps am, still terrified of making people feel uncomfortable.

But, it hasn’t come up. Much to my relief, there is a real camaraderie among all of the CET students. Our classes are blended with other programs as well, each working through National Taiwan University’s Chinese Language Division, and those students are also quite personable and warm.

The entrance of National Taiwan University’s Language Center
National Taiwan University’s Language Center, where we have daily Chinese language courses with students from all across the globe.

The CET staff, NTU faculty, and locals all around have been nothing but patient, compassionate, and warm. I even stumbled into my local roommate and her family in the Ximending shopping district completely by chance one day while exploring and shopping with other CET students. I was promptly treated to motherly hospitality, being shown where to get free snacks, and being treated to some local quick eats.

(Left) My local roommate, her mother, her brother, one of my CET classmates, and me after a chance run-in in Ximending. (Right) A selfie I managed to snap in front of the iconic Ximen rainbow crosswalk. In 2019, Taiwan was the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage.

So far, my worries have been largely unfounded, and I have had no trouble fitting in and making friends. As the worries bleed away, I’ve found it easier and easier to acclimate to the wonder that is Taiwan. My fears have turned into excitement. As such, I’ve been able to reach out to others back home in Minnesota too—many of whom are experiencing the same insecurities as I am coming back to college. My state has just made it possible for many residents who missed out on college opportunities and floundered in ongoing attempts to make a livable wage to attend college free of charge. We’re all still processing that college is still an option for us. Just wait until they hear that studying abroad is too!

Oh, and if you’re wondering how old I actually am, I will reveal that much in my final blog post.

A group of CET Taiwan students and housemates in the middle of a night market in Taipei, Taiwan
My first visit to a night market was with my CET housemates and our local roommate.

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