Going abroad to study is a beautiful way to understand another culture and enrich oneself. After over one year studying abroad, I am starting to think about what I am doing it for.
As time goes by and 2018 is almost finished, I am thinking about what I did this year. During this year, I went to school every quarter and tried to get the best scores that I could for my GPA. Later this year, I am planning to apply to a four-year university. Everything seems so organized and planned, yet I am worried about what my future will be after I graduate. What is the purpose of getting a degree? In fact, I have no idea how to answer this question. Do I really need to follow the social norms—get a great GPA, find a famous school and land a high-paying job? Going abroad to study is a great experience to open one’s eye and brain, but sometimes it’s also very discombobulating.
In an unfamiliar country without one’s comfort zone, one must live while speaking another language and trying to integrate into another culture. For example, before I decided to go abroad to study, I did not know any English. Yet, I thought that going to an unfamiliar country to study is good for me to become more independent. I then used spent half of a year learning English, from the beginning level. Even though my English has improved a lot, I still remember that day-- when I flew to America, I could not fall to sleep and worried about what would happen to me. I was very scared that I could not get into another new culture and could not make friends that speak English.
In the first week, I was very nervous, even though I could have a long conversation in English with my host-family and college professors, I still felt embraced to talk with others. Now, I have stayed in America over one year already and I have more confidence to talk in English. I still cannot believe I made it. Although I am more used to using English now, getting into a new culture is not easy. I need to change my way of thinking, behavior, and so on. Even though going abroad to study is a challenging game, during this year I learned a lot from it; growing is hard, but is not a bad thing. Life is an adventure. We are better for experiencing everything that has happened to us.
Going back to the purpose of studying — I think it is experiencing the moment — enjoying what we learn and what we see. Those experiences can make our life become more colorful!
Maggie Long is majoring in media at Centralia College in Centralia, Washington.