Charles Chen first visited the United States at the age of eight when he came to meet family friends. Leaving Taiwan for the commercial wonderland of Disney World, Chen remembers asking his parents why Americans like eating turkey legs.
Although he visited the U.S. a number of times while growing up, it was one specific trip that influenced his decision to eventually move to America for college.
“I remembered my 10th grade experience the most,” Chen said. “I tried so hard to immerse myself into the SoCal culture with six friends of mine that I have known since the first grade — wearing Hollister, visiting all the touristy sites like Hollywood and Santa Monica, eating In-N-Out and even thinking taking a tour in Walmart was exciting.”
Chen misses home, and said that despite technology like FaceTime, he often feels extremely far away from his family. To remedy this, he frequents Chinese and other Asian-themed restaurants, but admits that it doesn’t come close to home.
Nonetheless, Chen said he loves living in the city.
“This might sound really cliche, but the best part about coming to the U.S. is that I could live the American Dream,” Chen said. “I could eat burgers and bacon whenever I want, which I got sick of after the first week living at Third North.”
Chen said he has been capitalizing off the bragging rights that accompany a life in New York City. However, the biggest benefit for him is the lack of bigotry that he has been subject to.
“I also just feel really free as I am now living all the way across the world after living under my parents’ roof for 18 years on the mountains,” Chen said. “The best part about living in New York, I guess, is that I haven’t really encountered any racism so far.”
Spending time away from Taiwan has made Chen appreciate the time that he does spend at home for a multitude of reason, but most importantly it has accentuated the importance of his personal connections.
“I’ve learned how much family really is to me since I was months away for school and two months away during the summer from home completing my military services,” Chen said. “Last but not the least, I also just feel at home when I can speak Mandarin to anyone and everyone.”
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Oct. 10 print edition. Email Andrew Heying at [email protected]