Longhorns in Love: International students’ love endures transpacific crossing

Mae Hamilton

Wei-Hsiang Huang always dreamed of coming to the U.S., but the thought of leaving everything he knew scared him. There was only one person with whom he could think of beginning this new chapter of his life. 

“Seeing her, I immediately knew that she was the one for me,” Huang said. “It’s just a feeling that you get. Now, coming here, it’s the next big step in our lives.”

Wei-Hsiang Huang and Yu-Ting Lin, both operations research and industrial engineering graduate students, met in 2011 playing basketball for their university’s engineering department in their home country of Taiwan. Lin had a boyfriend when they first met, so they began their relationship as good friends, but they soon discovered they had deeper feelings for one another. Huang, who is two years Lin’s senior, would always try to find little excuses to talk to Lin. 

“I always knew before because he would ask me stuff like when due dates were for assignments, even though he had plenty of other friends that he was closer with in that class,” Lin said. “[Then] he went away from Taiwan for a week and I was like ‘Wait, am I missing him? Am I really falling in love with him?’” 

As their graduation date loomed in the near future, Huang and Lin realized they would have to move away from home. Huang said employees in Taiwan are expected to work overtime without compensation and are paid less than workers in the U.S.

“The work environment in Taiwan is not very friendly,” Huang said “Working hours are long, from eight to six. I didn’t want to live a life like that.”

Although Huang and Lin have enjoyed their newfound freedom since moving to the U.S., they experienced culture shock adapting to university culture here. In Taiwan, classmates usually get lunch or dinner together after class. Here, Huang and Lin found it difficult to get to know their classmates. 

But for Lin, being away from her and Huang’s families was the hardest part of adjusting.

“We moved here and realized that we didn’t have anyone and didn’t know anyone,” Lin said. “Everything seemed so unfamiliar. It made us realize how important family is to us. We’re like our own family now.”

For their first semester, Huang and Lin did almost everything together — eating, living and even taking the same classes. They compared notes and translated their lectures into their native language, Chinese.

“You get used to spending more time on things than others,” Lin said. “It was nice to have someone that you could discuss things with at anytime even though sometimes we still didn’t get the right answer.”

Huang and Lin both agree their ability to get along so well comes from a deep understanding and compassion for each other. 

“Whenever we encounter any difficulties, we always face it and try to solve it together,” Lin said. “If something good happens, he will be happy with me and if something bad happens, we’ll seek out solutions together. It feels good to always have a partner to face the world with.”

As for their next steps, Huang and Lin hope to get married and live in Texas for the long haul. 

“It can be hard for people our age to meet the right person,” Huang said. “We’re really lucky to have met each other. It’s hard to say why or when you realized that the person you’re going to spend the rest of your life with is the one. But I knew because when we got together we always affected each other in a good way. We admire one another.”