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My Experience: Andrew Wong-University Of Dayton

I just wanted to give my two cents of what it was like to come to the University of Dayton and how coming here has shaped and challenged me so greatly. It's been a great journey so far and I can't wait to learn more.

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When I was in the 8th grade, I distinctly remember my math teacher asking our class, "Where do you want to go to college?" And at that time, I remember writing down, "Any where far away from Hawaii". I guess that proposition became true, as I somehow ended up at the University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio. Honestly, I still do not know how I ended up here. Being 4,656 miles from home, with a 6-hour time difference, and a shortest flight time with layovers of 16 hours, has sometimes made me question my choice. I still get homesick and I sometimes still don't understand and probably will never understand the Midwest, but I am enjoying the process of adapting and I am happy.

You see a lot of people have asked me, Why would you leave Hawaii, the most beautiful place in the world, to go someone cold and boring, when you could just stay in Hawaii?

Well, as a kid growing up, I was "different". Some of my earliest experiences including getting booed at Aloha stadium for wearing Blue and Orange with funky colored socks to cheer for the Boise State Broncos, a rival to the University of Hawaii, because I simply didn't want to be "normal, like everyone else who cheered for the hometown, Hawaii Warriors. I remember doing foolish things like spraying whipped cream on my face in China during a wedding, and wearing a weird green and blue suit to prom. My favorite foods growing up included chicken feet, pigeon brains, and oysters, and while these foods were weird to some, I truly enjoyed seeing the reactions that I put on other peoples faces. While I do regret some choices that I've made, I truly enjoyed the attention that I got from being unique.

You see, too many people nowadays are afraid to create their own paths and simply take the easiest routes to avoid embarrassment and failure. While I can say for sure that there are many times in life that I've had no choice, but to adapt to the status quo, I still actively seek opportunities to challenge myself to ultimately become a better, more well rounded person and truly enjoy revealing my weaknesses in order to discover my hidden strengths and talents.

Given that, coming to the University of Dayton, has honestly been the most challenging yet most rewarding experience that I have ever partaken in. Just coming to UD from Hawaii is something I get questioned about all the time and adjusting to the culture, adjusting to the times when I get weird looks from professors and students at for being the only Asian in my class, and the experiencing the uneasiness I still get from talking to white girls at a party has been all the most exciting and frustrating. I honestly just enjoy all the added attention I get from my appearance alone and I've wholly gained a sense of cultural sensitivity and appreciation. Even though I consider myself an ambivert, a mix between an introvert and extrovert, I have learned much more about my character and have learned greatly on how to deal with different situations that will ultimately benefit me in the long run.

Besides cultural differences, just being by myself, away from family and friends, and a comfortable environment has been hard at first and still remains hard at many instances, but it has taught me a lot of lessons. I now know how to properly wash my sheets, manage my time, live with roommates, and cook. I've met so much amazing people and discovered opportunities that have challenged myself academically and personally at the University of Dayton. While I honestly can say that I've never made a best friend yet at UD, I've met many people who I look up to as role models, I've met people to chill and have a couple of beers with, I've met professors who've became family, and I've met many people who now call me Mistah Wong. Being away from family has given me the sense of be independent and in the past year alone I can honestly say that i've seen such massive progression towards being an adult.

UD has also allowed me to make an impact on the world. I've studied in China, I am going to volunteer in Tijuana, Mexico, and I have done local and international service learning projects that have ultimately touched people from all corners of the globe and challenged myself to continually challenge my beliefs and ideas. I've met people from different states and different countries, people who speak different languages, and eat different foods. Being around such diverse people in both culture, idea, religion, and thought, has been the upmost beneficial.

With challenges, you will never know how difficult the task will actually be until you've actually accomplished it. Being just a kid from Hawaii, I could never imagine 5 years ago, that today I would be sitting on a porch in Dayton, OH, enjoying some drinks with some great people, taking on leadership roles, joining a fraternity, and challenging myself academically and personally. I am reaching my full human potential and I seek to continually become a well-rounded, different individual, who likes to buy shoes and loves roller coasters. I can't wait for the next 2 and a half years at UD.

If you're reading this, don't be afraid to be different. Steve Jobs once said that the people crazy enough to change the world, are the one's who do. Don't be afraid to show your weaknesses, don't be afraid to step outside your comfort zone, and never change the values you believe in. The world needs more crazy, adventurous, well-rounded, dynamic, unique, and adaptable people, and I won't stop taking on these weird and challenging journeys, so neither should you.

-Mistah Wong

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