We were so fortunate to have a longer winter leave this year. The extra days allowed me to go back to Taiwan with my mom and enjoy a week and a half there before spending some time at home and then eventually coming back to the Academy. I was so relieved to be done with finals and excited to see all my relatives since the last time I had an opportunity to visit them was back in 2005!
It took a 13-hour direct flight to get from New York to Taiwan and once we landed, my mom and I got our luggage and headed over to my aunt’s house to surprise her! Neither my mom’s side nor my dad’s side of the family knew that I was coming back this winter break. To them nothing seemed out of the ordinary since my parents travel back to Taiwan annually. It was so nice to see the smiles on my relatives’ faces and the shock that I put them in by not telling them my winter plans earlier. All of my aunts, uncles, my two grandmothers, and grandfather still look the same, however my cousins have grown so much since the last time I was in Taiwan. It was amazing to think back and remember the time my cousins and I would fight over who was taller. Now that two of my boy cousins have gone through their growth spurt, I am left tilting my head back in order to look at them while we caught up.
Aside from getting to see all my relatives again, I loved spending time with my mom. Being at the Academy and away from home really makes me miss my family and the trip to Taiwan gave me time to spend with my mom, walking down memory lane and listening to all her childhood stories. I got to learn so much more about her and really appreciate having parents like my mom and dad. This trip also showed me where my parents got some of their traits; it was so interesting to see my grandparents, aunts, and uncle act in similar manners as my parents!
I realized that being at the Academy can be a little rough at times and amongst the uniforms and military lifestyle, you can really start to lose yourself. Ever since I have been here, my Mandarin has gotten worse, which is natural since I do not get to be around my parents, and speak to them on a daily basis. The trip to Taiwan could not have come at a better time since I got to really learn more about not only my mom and my relatives but about myself. I became fluent in Mandarin again when I went back and I got to spend time with my family, learning from my elders about Taiwan and about being Taiwanese American.
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