[ILLUSTRATED INTERVIEW] He compares life in Taiwan to life in Minnesota

New to SPA this year, sophomore Calvin He shares about his previous international schooling experience and some things he’s looking forward to in coming back to Minnesota and starting fresh at a new school.

Q: Where did you go to school before coming to SPA?

A:[Before coming to SPA,] I went to Taipei American School. It’s an International School in Taipei City in Taiwan. And, yeah, it has an American curriculum and everything. So, it’s not that different from the US, a private school like SPA, or any other private school you’d seen in the US.

He attended school at TAS in Taipei, Taiwan, for two years prior to coming to SPA. (Elle Chen)

Q: Why did you decide to attend SPA?

A: I don’t know where we heard of SPA, but I remember in like, middle school I toured it and you know, it really caught my parents’ eye and they really liked what the school had to offer. And they also liked that it’s quite similar [to TAS] so it’d be easier for me to transition back to living in the US.

He’s parents were drawn to the similarities between SPA and TAS which would ease his transition back to life in Minnesota. (Elle Chen)

Q: What are some of the biggest differences between TAS and SPA?

A: I’d say like, I guess the people… it was mainly like Asian people and they’re kind of born competitive. Not to be racist or in a negative way but they’re just more competitive. Everyone’s always comparing with each other. You’re always pressured to do more, always excel. But here, by the impression I’ve gotten so far, I guess people are more laid back, not to say people don’t put pressure on themselves but overall, that’s the vibe I get from SPA so far.

The environment and values that TAS students grew up in caused them to be more academically competitive compared to kids at SPA. (Elle Chen)

Q: What is a class or course you’re looking forward to taking at SPA?

A: Maybe, debate or robotics. They’re interesting because I had a little debate experience and robotics, or programming experience in my last school and it’d be nice to you know, not let that go to waste and use that.

With some previous exposure to debate and robotics at TAS, He would like to continue them at SPA as well. (Elle Chen)

Q: What is one thing you’re looking forward to once we start the hybrid plan?

A: Meeting new people, because with online school, it’s really hard to get to know people one on one. You’re either in a breakout room or listening to the teacher lecture. You don’t really see what people do in your school or what your classmates are like outside of class, right. So, you know, I’m kind of excited for that aspect of school.

With Distance Learning in full effect, He is looking forward to the day when he can finally meet his classmates in person. (Elle Chen)

Q: What is your favorite class at SPA so far?

A: My favorite class is honors biology. Seems pretty cool, and [my teacher, Ms. Drilling] she taught at the school I went to so I connected very well with the teacher and I just liked the subject of biology and the structure of the class. It’s a really hands-on experience so it doesn’t really feel like the online school impacted as much or feels more like you’re in a classroom if you do labs and hands-on stuff.

He’s favorite class so far is Biology. However, he has yet to experience the peculiar grading system of 5, 6, 8, and 10s. (Elle Chen)

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: Play video games, YouTube, and I run occasionally. What else? Just lounging, do nothing.

Some of He’s hobbies include running, watching YouTube, and playing video games.

Q: What’s been the hardest transition for you from Taiwan back to Minnesota?

A: I guess, the lifestyle, like transitioning from city lifestyle to suburban. You know in Taipei it’s a big city and everyone lives so close and transportation is so easily accessible so you don’t need to drive anywhere. You could walk everywhere because everything, the population density is so big, so everything’s really just tightly packed together, so it’s really easy to get around. But then, you know, when you move to suburban Minnesota it’s so different because you have to drive everywhere, Everything’s so far apart. That was really weird for me because then [now] I had to start relying on my parents to drive me.

Another thing I guess is going back to being a minority. Because I’m ethnically Asian and Taiwan is also an ethnically Asian country so there are lots of Asian people there. So, when I went to Taiwan, you know, the white people there were foreigners. But then once you move back to the US, you suddenly feel like your the tables are turned and it’s just really, for the first couple of weeks really weird… afterward, you get used to it again and it’s all fine.

Another huge change in He’s life after moving back to the Twin Cities was the racial demographics. (Elle Chen)

Q: What are you most looking forward to after moving back to Minnesota?

A: Winter, snow. Taiwan’s a tropical country, so no snow there. And I haven’t seen snow for more than a year and that’s something I dearly missed.

In Taiwan, snow was nowhere to be seen no matter the time of year. (Elle Chen)