Before and After TWC

Before and After TWC

The title seems like an advertisement for makeup, plastic surgery or weight loss courses, but it’s not! (Hopefully, a change in appearance is not so obvious in the drawing below). After doing so much comparison between D.C. and my home city of Taipei, it’s time to reflect on myself and wrap up what I learned from my experience with TWC.



To be honest, writing this before-and-after comparison is sad for me, because I have not even accepted the fact that I am leaving, and TWC is going to be a past tense in my life. Just the thought of saying goodbye to the routine I’ve been keeping, the friends I’ve made here and the adventures I’ve taken makes me want to cry. It’s really hard to believe how fast time flies!


Sitting in the dorm check-out meeting last week, I could clearly remember the day of the check-in meeting in the RAF four months ago. That day, I was still suffering from jetlag, so I kept falling asleep during the meeting, which was quite embarrassing and unforgettable. And now I am worrying about packing and moving out! In addition to the drastic increase of luggage and some weight I accidentally put on, how else have I changed during my semester interning here?

Official Version:

After TWC .......

I become more open-minded to diversity

Back in Taiwan, we seldom have the chance to communicate with foreign students on the street, in the café or during commuting, because everyone I encounter is mostly Taiwanese. Here in D.C., the population is quite varied and the program itself is no doubt very diverse, with up to 200 international students from more than 39 countries. Although I volunteered to serve with exchange students before, I never got to know them deeper or really had a chance to talk with them for long. As a result, I had more narrow view about other countries and foreigners, using stereotypes to overgeneralize races and cultures, neglecting the individual differences. After living in D.C. with fellow TWCers for four months, I found that people from other countries do have so many different ways of living and perspectives toward certain issues, but sometimes still share some things in common. In short, there is no such exaggeration or dramatic difference between people from different countries; it’s always better to keep open-minded and respect individual differences.


I felt the urge to better myself

I know “becoming a better person” is a cliché, but I really felt the pressure whenever I saw all the talented TWCers who were able to navigate professional, language and social skills. Here, English is no longer a command you can be proud of; it’s just a survival skill. Nearly all international students here speak fluent English, and at least understand or have even mastered a third language (Spanish, French…), while I gave up my third language easily back in school to focus more on improving my English. Also, I was never good at critical thinking and forming my own opinions, compared to other students here. The education back in Taiwan emphasizes more on memorizing, repeating and accepting information, making harder for us to cultivate the skills of thinking and criticizing, which are both indispensable abilities required in daily conversation here in D.C. I would have never realized how much I needed to improve if I had not left my hometown for this program.


I realized it’s all about pushing myself

TWC, and other similar programs, are not vacations where you can sit and wait for dreams to come true. Nope, nope, nope! Staying in the capital of U.S. and joining a program with 400 students from all over the world does not guarantee considerable improvement in English or social networking skills; in fact, it’s still ALL about pushing myself and taking actions to MAKE the timing, not waiting for the right timing (trust me, 15 weeks is way too short to "wait and see" about anything)! I really wish I could have pushed myself more and gotten involved in more activities and communities. As I reflect on the decisions I’ve made in this semester, I found that a lot of great memories came from those last-minute “yes" answers, including some small events, random hangouts or last minute RSVP's on a trip. The event itself could be boring, but the people we might meet and the experiences we might have after the YES could make everything worth it. Just make sure to think it through and do the risk management (not the blindest YES, of course!), then the YES policy is going to work and open you up to new experiences. Just as Steve Jobs said, we never know when the seemingly unrelated dots are going to get together and make something big in the future. Just try it and leave with no regrets.


Unofficial Version:



After TWC...

I finally got my recognizable professional headshot!




It’s not that I’ve never got a professional picture before; in fact, I’ve taken tons of them since high school. But they were either too weird or serious to present the real me. Thanks to the international leadership scholarship photo shoot, I finally got my first smiling and recognizable headshot! (And also a lot of crazy  group pictures with my friends).



Q: How many pictures does it take for a successful natural one in the flyer?

A: This many:



I found I am actually a hopeless trouble maker

The question with this finding should be: why so late?! Yes, I have to admit that I really relied on my family and friends too much before, so I never realized how much trouble I could get in without their protection. I always turned to them for help whenever I had small issues; therefore, I seldom really solved the problems or learned how to deal with my emotions alone back then. This summer, I got fined by the bank, booked wrong tickets, got burned (a slight one, thankfully), dropped my phone in water (never go to Apple store, just put it in rice and cereal) and had too many other "incidents" to be listed. Lesson learned: everything has its price! The worst thing can really happen to me, so I can never rely on luck living abroad.


I discovered my talent for cutting hair

To be honest, the thing I worried the most before the program was: how could I survive without getting my bangs cut every month? I felt like it’s impossible for me to leave my hair designer who has cut my bangs every month for more than ten years. I could go without bangs for sure, but I really hate it when bangs start grow longer and stick my eyes. Therefore, I decided to cut it myself with scissors (so unprofessional) every week. Surprisingly, it has gone fairly well! You never know who you are and what you are capable of before leaving your comfort zone!


Thanks for reading my blogs for the past 15 weeks, dear readers (both loyal ones and just passersbys). Keeping a blog with drawings for four month is never an easy and relaxing mission (like a New Year's resolution, you know)! It became especially hard during this busy semester with tight schedules and all my deadlines; however, it ended up being the best decision ever for me to take on the challenge of being a blogger. I will keep blogging and drawing, sharing my thoughts and experiences on Instagram: jilldrawing


See you and take care !!


Read Jill's previous blog posts here

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