在我第一次休學的時候，我和大部分 19 歲的年輕人一樣，有著很大的野心，想在有生之年對世界做出重要的貢獻。然而，我既不知道自己的人生使命是什麼，也不夠暸解這個世界背後的運作原理。而每當我想好好地花時間來自我省察、串聯不同學科的知識來打造自己的思考體系時，我便不斷地感受到大學體制的綑綁，覺得無法完全施展自己。
如今，我已經很清楚我未來十年的願景，就是將整個世界知識與技術增長的速度優化到理論極限。為了做到這件事情，我的十年目標是打造一個真正普及世界的開放超文本系統（Open Hyperdocument System），並以這個系統為基礎，建立新一代的網際網路。
很顯然地，這件事情非常困難。在休學兩年期滿時，我仍然能感受到自己在許多方面上都還有所不足。如果我要達成我的願景，我必須走出台灣、看一看外面的世界，取得那些我在台灣無法獲得的成長。於是去年九月，我正式放棄台大物理系和數學系的學籍，來到了以城市為校園、以多元文化交流為背景、以主動學習和跨領域應用為標榜的 Minerva 大學。
第一個收穫，是思考的方式變得更加完整。以前在台大時，我只是單純地在吸收並理解知識；但是在 Minerva 的第一年，學的則是八十幾種不同的思維模式。這些思維模式可以應用在各種不同領域的學習與研究上，也可以應用在解決問題、與人溝通、判讀資訊、拆解系統、分析數據、建立決策等每天都會遇到的情境中。一整年的訓練不僅使我注意到許多以前不曾注意到的思維漏洞，也讓我更懂得如何批判、創造與應用眼前的資訊與所學的知識，對我來說剛好達到與在台大所學互補的效果。
第二個收穫，是學會用心經營與他人的關係。我在 Minerva 交了幾個我非常珍視的朋友，這些朋友不僅讓我感受到被珍惜、被重視，也讓我變得更像一個人。以前的我總是一股腦地朝著願景向前衝，但是這幾年我才真正意識到，經營有意義的關係，跟開創有意義的事業同樣重要。我變得更加重視我與我愛的人們之間的關係，也開始花更多的時間去傾聽、理解他人。
第三個收穫，是找到能理解我的願景的同類。在 Minerva 的這一年，我和不少同學講述過我的願景，以及我對於達成這個願景所想的計畫和做的研究。從結果來看，並不是每個人都能跟上我的思考脈絡，也並不是每個人都能理解這個願景背後蘊含的力量。然而，有幾個同學特別不一樣。他們很會問問題，並且總是能在我只給了有限資訊的情況下，便提出切中要點的想法、產出令我感到驚艷的成果。甚至有兩個同學在一次討論中，用一種與我完全不同的思考路徑，推敲出整個願景中最重要的想法之一。在跟他們討論時，我不僅不需要擔心他們跟不上我的思路，還能不斷地從他們給予的反饋中獲得我當下缺乏但必要的知識拼圖，這樣的體驗我以前在台大時從來不曾有過。
然而，在充滿變化的人生中，有一件事情對我來說是不變的：我是個由願景驅動的人。在過去半年，根據我對技術演進的研究，以及對市場條件的分析，我認為實踐我的願景的最佳時機已經到了。這使得我投入愈來愈多的時間在執行我的計畫，也讓我開始難以同時兼顧在 Minerva 的生活。
幾個禮拜前的某一天下午，我左耳的耳機接著 Minerva 的線上討論課，右耳的耳機正在和夥伴討論這週的計畫內容，而我發現我已經好一段時間沒有傾聽朋友的煩惱了。正是在那時我才真正意識到，我必須做出取捨。
對我來說，人生做重要的事情，莫過於有意義的事業和有意義的關係，而現在的我在這兩件事情上都處在一個絕佳的位置。但是，只要我還在 Minerva 當學生，每週就得花至少三十五個小時在課業跟工讀上。這樣大量的時間投入，正切切實實地阻礙著我開創有意義的事業和經營有意義的關係。
When I first dropped out of university, I, like most 19-year-olds, had the ambition to make a significant contribution to the world during my lifetime. However, I had no idea what my life mission was, nor did I understand enough about how the world worked. Whenever I wanted to take time reflect on myself, or whenever I wanted to connect the knowledge across different disciplines to build my thinking system, I continuously felt the university’s bondage. I felt that I could not fully exert my potential.
During my two gap years, the general direction I set for myself was to keep an open mind to everything and try my best to learn all kinds of knowledge, skills, and viewpoints to understand myself and the world from different dimensions. Then I constructed a set of outlook on life, the world, and values that I felt are solid and reliable to derive my life mission and my vision for the world.
Now, it is clear that my vision for the next decade is to accelerate the speed of human’s intellectual and technological progress to the theoretical limit. To achieve this vision, my 10-year goal is to design and build a truly universal Open Hyperdocument System and build on that system the next generation of the Internet.
Apparently, this goal is very challenging. At the end of my two gap years, I still felt inadequate in many ways. If I want to achieve my vision, I must get out of Taiwan, look at the outside world, and get the growth I cannot get in Taiwan. Therefore, last September, I officially gave up my student status in the Department of Physics and Mathematics of NTU and came to Minerva Schools, which uses the city as the campus, focuses on multicultural communication, and promotes active and interdisciplinary learning in their pedagogy.
During the year and a half, I had three significant gains as a college student.
The first gain is that my habits of thinking became more mature. When I was at NTU, I was absorbing and understanding knowledge. But in the first year of Minerva, we learned eighty different habits of mind and foundational concepts (HCs). These HCs can be applied in various disciplines and everyday situations such as solving problems, communicating with people, interpreting information, decomposing a system, analyzing data, establishing decisions, etc. The whole year’s training made me notice many thinking holes that I had never noticed before and made me better at criticizing, creating, and applying the information in front of me and the knowledge I learned. For me, it was complementary to what I had learned in NTU.
The second gain is that I learned to take more care with my relationships with others. At Minerva, I made several close friends I held very dear, who sincerely valued me and made me feel more like a complete human. I used to be driven by only vision, but in the past few years, I realized that meaningful relationships are just as crucial as meaningful works. I became more attached to my relationships with the people I loved, and I spent a lot more time and effort listening and understanding others.
The third gain is that I found peers who understand my vision. During my time at Minerva, I told many peers about my vision and the plans and research I had done. As it turned out, not everyone could follow my thinking or understand the power behind this vision. However, there are a few who are quite different. They are very good at asking questions, and with the limited information I gave them, they can always come up with ideas that hit the point and deliver results that amaze me. In one discussion, two of them even hammered out one of the most important ideas in the whole vision, using a completely different way of thinking than I did. In discussing with them, I not only didn’t have to worry about them not being able to keep up with my thinking, but I was able to continually learn from their feedback the puzzle pieces of knowledge that I lacked but needed at the moment. This is the kind of experience I had never had at NTU before.
There is no doubt that Minerva was the place that influenced me the most in my life. I’d grown a lot here and made very close friends.
However, in a life full of change, one thing remains the same for me: I am a vision-driven person. Over the past six months, based on my research on technology history and my analysis of the market, I believe that now is the best time to work toward my vision without holding anything back. I spent more and more time carrying out my plans, making it difficult for me to balance my life at Minerva.
One afternoon a few weeks ago, my left earbud was connected to Minerva’s online seminar, while my right earbud was connected to the teammates of my project, and I found I hadn’t had any quality time with my best friends for quite a while. It was then I realized that I had to make a choice.
For me, the most important things in life are meaningful works and meaningful relationships, and I’m in a great position on both of them right now. But as long as I am still a Minerva student, I’ll have to spend at least thirty-five hours a week on academic and work-study. This massive investment of time is making me sacrifice from building meaningful works and maintaining meaningful relationships.
Therefore, I dropped out again.
Unlike three years ago, this time, I am no longer confused with my life and no longer angry with the education system. I am grateful for what I have now. Very, very grateful. The real world has its constraint, and I know what I truly want.
Life is full of surprises, and the road ahead is full of challenges. I will do my best, keep learning and growing, and do things well step by step.
Farewell, my friends. I’m pretty sure we’ll meet again at some point in the future. Before that, please take care.