Journey to the East

William Wen
10 min readOct 3, 2022


Earlier this year, my son Jack chose to study Computer Science at National Dong Hwa University in Hualien, Taiwan.

In a way, it could have been so much easier for him to study CS at DigiPen in Redmond, WA. He can live at home and commute 15 minutes to school. Everything would be familiar. Same house, same room, same environment, same cities, same weather, same food. Same everything.

But, that’s the thing. Growth is stunted when everything is easy and comfortable.

“Do what is easy and your life will be hard. Do what is hard and your life will become easy.” — Les Brown


It’s been over 30 years, but I remember my college move in day. During my teenage years I lived with my aunt and uncle in New Jersey while my parents worked and lived in Taiwan.

For college I went to The Cooper Union in New York City with a full scholarship. In 1991 they didn’t have dorms yet, as the current dormitory wasn’t completed until 1992. Instead, Cooper offered student housing for Freshman at an apartment building on 310–312 East 35th St. It was across the street from the Queens Midtown tunnel and a handball/basketball court.

I remember playing basketball against a construction worker in work boots. He couldn’t miss from the three point line. It was like the park scene in the movie Hustle, but in real life. I also remember getting a fresh baker’s dozen of bagels early in the morning, walking back to the apartment and eating a warm sesame bagel as the sun came up over the east river.

The school’s studio apartments are unfurnished. On the day of the move, my aunt hired a mover with a truck, packed up my bunk bed, mattresses, dresser, clothes, and other essentials. I rode with them, and was dropped off at the apartment in midtown Manhattan.

I had a bank account where my parents would send me money for living expenses. And that was it. I was on my own for the next 4 years in the Big Apple.

Looking back, it’s crazy to think that was how I started college at age 17, but it’s a part of who I am now.



William Wen

25 years in tech | 13 years @ Google | 9+ years Tesla Investor | |