Saturday, October 02, 2010

Been Changed

I always thought my short stay in Iowa changed me the most, but it isn’t anymore. Right now, in the military, I feel I do things more selfishly, treat others more carelessly, and fake my emotion more successfully. The feel of desperation causes human ancient behavior to reveal again in this modern world. But if I think optimistically, I became tougher because of all the stresses in order to obey every command that officers made. And I became healthier because I have no excuses to not have exercise.

However, most important of all, I kept observing everything relative to acknowledge human behavior. In military, I saw how centralized decision making can made the whole system inefficient and corrupt from the very root. It was built in this kind of system. How can commanding officers care the difficulty and the time-consuming nature in a mission if the one who is actually doing it is not allowed to say how ridiculous the mission is and how most of the time is wasted on many unnecessary rules made for reasons that only serve to save some commander’s terrible management ability so he can receive remuneration for life after he retired? I just can’t see how this military can win any war or do anything efficient with a tendency of throwing money and time to an endless stupidity.

Serving in the military has both pros and cons, but I would rather be elsewhere. Maybe half way around the earth.

And by the way, I have no relative pictures to show. Remember, stupidity is always standing in the way of information flow.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Waiting and Escaping

My life were pretty much all about waiting and escaping.

I don't really remember my preschool age that much, but I guess I was just waiting for grow up. I didn't have worries to escaping from except some rare incident that cause my parent's wrath, which I didn't have such ability to possibility avoid.

Six years of elementary school is the most violent environment I have ever experience, especially the latter years. I did't even know violence is not supposed to be the nature of education until I grew much older. In class, I will be slam in both hands if I don't hand in my homework in time, perform tests badly, or not behave accordingly. But I doubt that education is the purpose of such punishment, even at that little age I sense those intense anger and frustration on the faces of my teachers are the true reason. Why anger? Why frustration? I don't know. Maybe they thought education is all about indoctrinating the strictest moral value, so our future society can be more perfect, and failing to do so is endangering their reputation. Or, maybe they thought textbooks and tests is all students have to know. Remembering them is so easy that whoever fails the test must subject to laziness and stupidity. Sometimes I and my classmate were lucky that we knew our test score early, so we can count how many slam we ought to get and psychologically (even physically, don't ask me how) prepare for it. I always want to escape from it, naturally. But that was the only school nearby. We didn't have much choice, and my parents told me they went through the same thing, why can't I? Every time I had been punished hard, I wished I can grow up. Waiting was my only choice.

Junior High is a different place—at least a bit different. The crazy-manner, child-hater, and punish-addict kind of teacher no longer hold dominant number in the school. I think partly because there are more educated parents in the city (Yea, I moved) and partly because teachers were more often been criticized on media (and sued) as year passes. But some teachers still ignored the tendency of educational reform and constantly indoctrinated the discipline legitimacy (I rather call it child-abuse legitimacy) while continued their own style of penalty (Ass/hand-slamming and ear-twisting). I did violate those rules and got those penalties, every classmate did. However, that was not because I don't want to learn or I don't want to know. I felt bored remembering every detail in the textbooks and taking average 4 or 5 tests a day. I felt tired of doing endless and meaningless homework every night without really learning anything. I really wanted to leave somewhere else in any possible way at that time. But escaping everything teacher told me to do was the best I can do. I tried to treat school as a behavior adjusting facility rather than an educational institute. I copied most of my homework from others either at the morning or the 10 minutes break just before that class. I constantly cheated on tests in a tricky way (would you just don't bother to ask how?) so my tests won't be too high to get too much attention nor too low to be punished. Why not try just don't go to school? No. Those teachers knew and I knew that most students will think that way. No mercy, sorry. If I excuse myself from class for whatever reason, I have to finish homework and tests I missed with no exception. This will only makes my day worse. I was still waiting for time to pass; waiting for suffer to end. While knowing that the end was going to be a big test, decide which school I ought to be.

I once thought my high school life will be better, but it wasn't. For me, it is a psychological torture facility. Those teachers had stopped adjusting students, at least without a rod, but they had no idea how 9 years of "education" can made. All I remember in class is just constant devastating noises—no science learning, no problem solving, and no language-communication training, but only chatting, laughing, and murmuring exist. I really want to learn and listen to what teacher trying to say (at least some), though classmates' loud silly-talking block my flow of thinking all the way down to the end of day. The cause is not because there were more "bad" students in my school; it is the previous punish-leading education leads to the total distrust of authority; it is because most of student spent most their night went to other place for the purpose of "more effective learning" as well. In other words, student won't give a damn thing for what teacher said no more. They had already learned how to beat every test in expensive private school, and using public school only as a playground. Also, the part that I don't remember in class is because some class are so boring that everyone went to a complete sleep just after 5 minute the class began. Ironically, compare to ear-suffering status, sleeping and dreaming with a painful sitting posture in class was my only salvation. In a way, I went to joint club activity during my break between classes and lunch break just to escape. Overall, I was waiting, and I wished soon I can join the legendary free world, college. However, with no exception, I have to take a big test again. Unlike my last big test, my anxious disappeared—along with my courage to take another one.

Somehow, after the General Scholastic Ability Test, the summer break I had always waiting for was no longer just a summer break. I was totally free; no more fake summer break that I have to go to school half a day and carry a ton of homework back home; no more annoy psycho can tell me stop doing whatever I want and how important to do well on tests, so I can get an easy job, sit in an office, and doing nothing productive. Of course, I was waiting for college, the place I thought I can learn the very knowledge and truth.

Indeed, I was disappointed. The class was not as good as I thought it could be. And I didn't have much choice for what course I like, even what instructor I prefer to attend. It let me feels I returned my high school again. That is not the fault of Tatung University itself but the cause of commonly low tuition within this island. And I realized much later why choices can be so much expensive. But, regardless some disappointment, I was glad to learn more about the true world and to listen some mechanical product making method or real life experience. Also, I had much more free time to spend on what I like, despite the fact that some general and language course instructors still gave us meaningless homework and memory-based tests just like high school. It turns out that those free times are more valuable than anything. It seemed to me that, by the time I've spent one year deliberately using English excessively the same way as it is my first language, I've learned more than anything my 6 years of English education had ever taught me. Again, I tried to escape; I sometimes can't help but slept in class because I only had my free time at night; I read textbooks by myself to compensating my intentional absence of concentration on Chinese-base classes; And I wait, wait for a chance.

Every summer and winter after my freshman year, I would go to New York. That is a place too crowded for me, and those famous shopping places are like a pin in my eyes. Maybe I would like New York if I was raised lack of entertainment or fulfillment, but I was not. I already have internet as my entertainment and knowledge as my fulfillment. But anyway, thankfully, I can escape from the intolerable hot and humid weather in Taiwan.

Then, at the fourth year of my college, somehow I got my chance to go to Iowa State University for a short semester. I gradually understand what education really mean to offer is just guidance; not moral indoctrination; not remembering detail word-by-word. I felt like I belong to that place more than anywhere simply because I need guidance, the kind of guidance I lack during my whole life. However, I decided I can wait, patiently, just one more year of suffering. And I can probability thinking about how to mentally escaping it as well.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Different One – Exchange Student Experience in Iowa State University

I know I’m different. The different one who does not have much to say most of the time, because the indifference topic most people usually talk about. I am not interested in sharing religious believes, talking about superstitions, searching the best restaurant to eat, involving with other people’s relationships, watching sports, and shopping clothes. That’s almost all the people are talking about, and I don’t have a single word to say.

I’m well aware of that, but I’m not trying to change who I am. Because I don’t need people around me, I don’t feel lonely, and I sometimes feel more comfortable when no one can sense my existence.

But I do care about people. I care to know how we can make this world better, I care how to rethink our education method so we can make our next generation more creative, I care how to improve our government, so that our law, regulation, and policy can truly represent what people really want, I care how to change our financial system so those people who are productive can earn what they deserve.

Iowa State University is a good place for me. Not only because the great amount of knowledge I received, but also the special environment I’ve got to experience. There are nearly 28,000 students from all 50 states and more than 110 countries in this school. At the beginning of the semester, I stayed with a group of exchange students from all over the world: Mexico, Turkey, Singapore, Spain, U.K., Vietnam, Brazil, Norway, and Finland. They are the most different kind of group I’ve ever seen, but I still can share our common interest and value. After that, I mostly hang out with Taiwanese; they are the most kindness one. They do most of the help without considering any payback; even they know I only stay for a semester and probably wouldn’t ever come back. And I also have a good relationship with some Americans. They are the kind of people I have the most interest. I want to know how they are thinking about us, and what their point of view towards the rest of the world is. This is really a great place for my source of inspiration.

As my observation, all of them have very different state of mind; some are smart, with a clever mind; some are very sensitive, often over guessing the meaning of words; some are very talkative, they say as what they think; some are hard working, have to got a job so they can have education; some are dependent, but learned step by step towards independence; some are isolated, because of the culture difference; some are just good people, provide helps whatever they can; some lost their goal of life, don’t know what kind of job they should do; some are selfish, the action and reaction is all about themselves; some enjoy their life very well, have fun at every moment; some want to stay in the U.S. desperately, hoping to have a better life.

All those experience with those very different kinds remind me a little part of me. I have some of those characters some time, but with different circumstance and different level. As experiences of observation and self-examination growth, I figure that the differences of actions and reactions between people are mostly depending on every past experience they’ve got. Although this is a very complex relationship associate with their gene and mental/physical status at the time of event, there still have some clue we can find to make a correct prediction.

But its differences are absolutely what human need. Differences may often cause confusion and misunderstanding, but the differences between us also determines the value of every single individual in this century. Doing the same thing everybody can do over and over again is no longer what society need. Differences make us unique; make us irreplaceable among all 6.8 billion human beings. And Education can let us discover our potential out of differences.


The most things I worry about Taiwan is education, the most inferential and valuable investment. Because the experience I’ve got from more than 15 years of education tells me that Taiwan’s education system is not designed for inspiring creativity, breeding different individual, and preparing needs of future. Instead, the first 12 grade has unintentionally been built to imprison children’s open minds. Students constantly been told to give up what they love to follow a model of success. Even though more and more evidence show that the success of yesterday is not applicable for the triumph of tomorrow. Parents are absolutely eager to spend their money to children’s education. But they fail to spend in the right direction and twisted the whole purpose of standard test. They’ve changed education to a meaningless high cost and useless competition. Then, unfortunately, when students get a chance to decide what to learn for their future in their university, the passion of learning and desire to choice are no longer existed. The only thing left to do is continue this success model until one day it breaks.

This crisis is, of course, recognizable within this island. But during my exchange program, I found out how similar this problem we face all around the globe. Several Singaporeans told me the same things also happened in Singapore. Most of students from Asia don’t know what kind of job they want or what subject or area they are interested in. They see future as an unpredictable path lies on the production line arbitrarily assemble by their parents. Free higher education in Europe sounds like a perfect solution, but the lack of selection process (for students) and limited teaching resource reduce the effectiveness on their system. On the other hand, Americans face their own problem, too. Although their high quality of university education environment makes the whole system more efficient, skyrocketing tuition cost makes them suffer on economic level. Intense unnecessary competition among universities builds up the price. It cost more than just money, but also causes the attainment to defer and even decrease. Only 27.7% had earned a Bachelor's degree(or higher) in the United States.

I believe the solution is out there. Waiting for the emerging of internet technology, government legislation, and most important of all, the mind set of all human to change. The power is in people’s hands if they want to.

We can ask ourselves: What if we redesign our education with an eye towards the future with today’s available technology?

All world governments and education institutions should work together as a single group and pursuit one single purpose: To provide every human being all known knowledge, technique, and method towards the usage for greater good of mankind. We can’t afford to not educate people just because they are poor or their parents couldn’t pay for it. We can’t afford putting teaching resources separated in inefficient way. We can’t afford to give away our education to those self-interest politician and private profit-driven institutions building knowledge walls against open knowledge society.

We, together, should concentrate our education resources to build a world class cyber education system. Truly connect all instructors and students using information technology so feedback can be effectively sent, changes can be made, and improvement can be achieved. Funding is provided by governments to reward good instructors (examined by feedback systems), support scientific research and invention, and build infrastructure for educational purpose. Also, we should systematically eliminate protectionism within the scientific community. Human prosperity should not be sacrificed for short-term profit. Educational books and resources will neither be expensive nor scarce, learning motive will not be suppressed by local policy maker, true educator’s ability can finally reach to everybody, every one of us, on our planet Earth.


From the very beginning when I know I’m going to live in Iowa, I know it will be different. But I was still amazed by so many surprises along the way.

Experience on the first few days of activity with exchange students is exciting. In fact, those students from all over the world make me wonder: How on earth could they gather so many across this wild world? All their languages, cultures, and appearances are so much different. But all of them are able to speak the same language and have the same goal: To live in a foreign country to learn. Although we have greater language barrier and greater culture difference, we generally still have a good friendship.

International students are different. 80% of them came from China, one of the fastest growing developing countries in the world. I didn’t like it at the beginning. This makes me indistinguishable among them. But few months later after I deliberately shout out loud the name “Taiwan” on the international student orientation on the “introduce what country you came from” part in front of hundreds of “Chinese”. I gradually realized the larger picture. After all, we human all came from the same place. Divide people against each other is meaningless.

Population density largely decides the way of life. You cannot buy something hot, cheap, and delicious to eat at 12 p.m. You must travel more distance to get some services. And you find out that sometimes it’s so hard to see human on the street. Although everyone lives far away, people who want to do the same thing can always get together and make a good effort. In some ways, resource for specific activity can be easily concentrated without negative effect on others.

Walking on the central camp in ISU is a joy. In summer time, the brightest sunlight shines, and everything became so colorful to the point where you have to wear sunglasses. In fall, all trees changed its color, and leafs started to fall down. Create a whole new wonderful picture with the fading sun. And in winter, the coldest winter I have ever seen. I experienced the first blizzard in my life, and watched the blowing snow traveling a great speed at 5 degree angle across the ground. Also, I once stood in the middle of a parking lot watching and feeling snow coming down slowly. At that moment, I had no doubt that I found the true peace in my mind.

And maybe, by sharing my thought on this journey to as many people as I could, I can fulfill my duty as an exchange student.

Thanks for all the professors and many university employees on both Taiwan and Iowa who help me so much during this exchange program. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Timeless life

Imagine living in a timeless life. Where you eat when you hungry, you sleep when you tired, and you do your work whenever you want to.

That's the current state of my life, except for Tuesday and Thursday when I have class. I can listen to music as I read some web news, watching music video while searching for lyrics, and lying on my bed overwhelmed by the wonderfulness of Planet Earth without aware of time. Most recently, watching Pomplamoose Music video and recall the first time I hear their music in my little room at Iowa State. That memory contains not just images, but the feeling of environment as well.


Anyway, I'm sure this kind of life will not keep going for long. So, I better find a way to remember it. That's this blog for, isn't it?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Nervous System

Recently I feel like I have a problem with doing meaningful things. I only have class 2 days a week, have almost no homework to do, and have nothing but my laptop accompany. I don't know why, but something stops me from doing anything productive. Yeah, you can say I'm lazy. But I really want to do something useful.

One night I woke up with this insecurity feeling and started to review my recent life. Almost nothing, nothing is significant enough to stands on the way after Iowa. But at the same time what I can do now is an important factor that can affect my future. So I should find a way to do things differently.

By the way, how many of you guys think of what is the true purpose of life? For what reason human work so hard to live?

For now on, my answer is quite simple. The source of motivation is just the stimulation upon human nervous system.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Alien Mind

I feel like an alien in Iowa State University, of course. But feel like an alien in Taiwan is a new thing for me.

The feeling of being an alien, obviously, comes from differences of the outward appearance of human beings. Like height, color of hair, color of eyes and skull structure. And it also comes from immanence, like language and culture. At first, it seems like it is other people’s fault that makes me feel weird and unpredictable towards their action. But as I stay in an alien group long enough (three different kind of group: American, Asian and European), I developed some strategy to deal every kinds of them. Then I have to shift my mind set if I meet two groups of them in one day. At that time, I’m not trying to be the guy that say everything that is “pleasant to hear” to every kinds of group. I just want to use this exchange student opportunity well so I can observe as more as I can. Regardless of Observation, I began to feel like an outsider everywhere even in Taiwanese groups. This feeling grew noticeably at the end of semester. And when I arrived at the airport of Taiwan, I was no longer in the same mind.

Everything’s changed since.

Acting silence more often, for the greater good, so I wouldn’t be able to leak out more unnecessary information to the rest of the world.