Kenny FONG – University of Michigan, USA

“The United States is truly a place where you find opportunity, excitement and diversity.

During my 5-month stay in the States, I realized that the country is actually more than what Hollywood movies told us. There are rarely gangsters holding guns and drugs (except in South Chicago or Downtown L.A.) but civilized persons who will treat you with joy and respect. Despite the fact that one time a drunk man called me panda hopefully because of my dark circles, I recognize most of the Americans to be easy-going. Helping hands, no matter black or white, are always available.

While ‘Carpe Diem’ seems to be the life-guiding principle of many Americans. In reality, the most contributive students in a class are usually the ones who will stay up late in clubs on Friday night but turn out become a handsomely-paid ibanker that can solve sophisticated equations within seconds. Their sort of work-hard-play-hard spirit contrasts sharply with the typical lifestyle of a Chinese and can be a cultural shock to any outsider.

The place where I studied, Ann Arbor, is a small but peaceful town that has been constantly ranked as the best city to live in America. It was built with Umich as the axis so 80% of the residents in town are university staff, students and their families. Given the proximity, bonding between Michiganians is really strong and so the town is just like a big home. The only problem lies in the cold weather – I did not expect snow in late-April!

I believe that going on a student exchange is definitely a plus. It teaches you independence, so you will not rely on your mama for everything. It greets you new people and new cultures, so you are more adaptable to this increasingly globalized society. It keeps you away from your business at home, so you have the chance to ‘squander’ your time traveling to somewhere you have never thought of and discovering the beauty of the other end of the world. Trust me: the insights you gain, the breakthroughs you make, the challenges you embrace or even the homeless man you bump into at the corner of the street will all make the exchange a life-altering and unforgettable journey.

Thank you for all the good memories, America. To me, you have already become great again :)

P.s. Special credits to my Umich+GLEF buddies Franck Wang and Bruce Chen who shared ups and downs with me all the way along. Your companion lit up my exchange and made the trip one of my favorites!”