Before embarking on the GEXP, I was a novice ballroom dancer who started dancing about a year. Doing ballroom dancing was never on my bucket list. However, thanks to my friend I began to pick up the skills and developed an interest in mastering ballroom dancing. Unfortunately, the ballroom dancing scene in Singapore and our school is small and inferior. Additionally, the recent pandemic has deteriorated the situation, giving me less opportunity to explore this new dance sport.
In the third week of the spring semester, everyone is excited about joining a new club in the school. At the University of Maryland (college park), I can find any possible club that I can think of. I have tried skating, a coffee club, an adventurous club, and the ballroom dance club. It is very common here to have multiple club activities simultaneously. However, I devoted most of my free time to the ballroom dancing club because the ballroom in America is big! Besides, I get to learn Latin dance for free, which is a deal I cannot find in Singapore.
Since this was my first semester, I joined the club as a beginner, but quickly moved up to the bronze level due to my prior experience. I appreciated my instructors and seniors for their enthusiasm and their level of attention to detail. I was able to pick up errors I subconsciously made and correct them then. The classes allowed me to build my ballroom fundamentals from zero to master. Not only that, but I am also developing a stronger belonging and commitment to this sports community. I learned how to become a better ballroom dancer and I hope I can pass down the knowledge gained from my experience.
Besides working on the fundamentals, I got to travel with the ballroom club to Ohio and New York for the annual collegial ballroom competition. They were eye-opening experiences for me as I got to see the competitive scene in the ballroom. People are really good and passionate about what they are doing. Sometimes I wonder if they are supposed to be at a higher level instead of competing with me in the same category. Besides the competition, the team also got to watch the professional dancer competition. The open-category dancers put up an amazing show for us, inspiring us to be like them. Nevertheless, people from other states are very friendly; as a ballroom dancer, you can always ask someone you just met to dance.
Last but not least, I have made long-lasting friendships by joining this club. Besides meeting for classes twice a week, we will ask each other for other activities around the campus. The most memorable day I had was to go to the countryside of the states to visit my partner’s house, play with her animals, paddle in the lake, and joined the thanksgiving lunch with her family. It was truly the best local immersion experience I could ask for. Joining the ballroom club gave me a wholesome and complete exchange experience as I actively engaged in a co-curriculum activity to improve my skills and make friends. It was unfortunate that we had to part so soon, but our connection will not break.