Driving through the streets of Columbus while feeling exhausted and petrified, the sight of Wexner Medical Center fell into my eyes. The stories from under my pen had finally come true. At that exact moment, I knew the one year of longing and waiting was all worth it. It felt like a dream being able to step on the gentle grass of the Oval after five long, exhausting flights. The bold shade of scarlet and the vast Oval had a familiar yet unknown feeling.
My acceptance letter came during the last dinner I had out with my family before lockdown. Since then, my life took a 180 degree turn that nobody expected. Holiday turned into quarantine, my senior year in high school turned into online classes and the next thing I knew, I was unable to be in the U.S. for the upcoming semester. My entire plan and everything I worked for in high school was disrupted. All that was left were online classes in my bedroom that flipped daytime and nighttime. I started to question myself if that was what I wanted. I chose Ohio State for the big campus, university spirit and diverse students. Online classes took away every aspect of what I was looking for. Deciding to take a gap year was a difficult and unorthodox decision. I became very conflicted by my own choice, not knowing if it was a waste of time.
I came across an open internship position with Ohio State’s China Gateway when I was urgently trying find fulfilling experiences by learning and working last year. Even though I had never had internship experience, I did some social media-related activities in high school, and I wanted to pursue a degree in communication at Ohio State. After the interview, I realized there was a pool of knowledge for me to obtain. Every day at the office was a new learning experience for me.
From organizing excel sheets to alumni events, I gained many skills. The hours sitting in the office never felt boring. I constantly faced new tasks for me to execute. I became very knowledgeable about the university since I wrote weekly news articles and compiled Ohio State stories. The China Gateway office was designed by an alumnus to feel like you were on the campus, including many Ohio State elements and images. There were so many moments that I thought to myself, “I wish I was there.”
During my days with the China Gateway, I was honored to promote and represent the school through different events. One of my proudest moments was going to the United States Shanghai Counselor’s Thanksgiving event. The Counselor invited one student from their university to share their experiences in the U.S. and their opinions on the situation with the pandemic. I was able to relate to many of the other students who are in the same position as me. It was at that moment that I was not scared anymore. Looking back, taking a gap year was the best decision I have ever made. I made remarkable memories that I will cherish forever. Working for the China Gateway made me fall in with love with the school and more determined to come here this fall.
Ohio State alumna and poet Maggie Smith said, “Put one foot in front of the other and believe that the road will be there. Be proud. You are not only traveling a new road but making it as you go.” In this strange period, everything might not be going the way we planned. Nevertheless, trust the process. Even if it does not look right in the moment, give it some time, and it will surprise you.