In recent years, many people asked me about studying in other countries. They asked me if I have any advice for them in living and studying. Well, studying overseas is not simple, we all tell ourselves that. Going to study overseas is a tough decision; it could be the most important decision that might change your life forever. It is not only about studying at school, but it is also a new chapter of your life. You will face difficult challenges in the outside world, as well as enjoy the joyfulness of exploring a new location, discovering your full potential and figuring out your life goals. You are about to embark on a road to conquer your dreams. You might be afraid of failure and you are scared of the idea of being clueless in one of the largest countries in the world. Well, you should be, being scared is good, because it will make you prepare even more than enough to endure that fear. So, you can say to yourself, “I got that. Now what else do I need?”
The journey will be an exhaustingly long road of endeavors. It could be one of the hardest challenges you would ever face, both mentally and physically. It is the life of an international student. The workload will hit you quick and hard, and knock you on the ground. The language barrier will push you away from the society, and the culture barrier will make you hate everything in life. It is the life of an international student.
Yet, you will soon see the day when you become so familiar with those struggles. You will find yourself ready to face a new one because they were so easy to deal with. You will find yourself growing up. If you have the opportunity to go, then go ahead and try it out. Because you are privileged compared to the unlucky students who do not have the chance to study in one of the greatest countries.
It could be financially impossible; it could be the fear of living alone, or the concern about your studying capability. But I am telling you, you are the chosen one; because you are brave enough to stand up, talk to your parents that you want to strive a better life for yourself. You are so ready for the journey, my friends.
In the U.S., it is common for parents to let their children move out at the age of 18, though the purpose of this action is not as simple as you think. For me, when my parents wanted me to do it, it is still the most significant moment in my life that I am still thankful for to this day. I think it is one of the reasons people should go study in a new country. It is the best way to figure out your weaknesses and complete your personality.
However, it is not a common thing in our country after all. Back home, young people are so afraid to live away from their parents, or in some cases, they are thrilled by the idea of living on their own. And parents are sometimes scared to let their children live far from them; they are scared that the world will swallow their children so easily. However, I am telling you, it will be paid off.
After four years of living alone, far from my parents, I have realized so many times that I’ve lost count, that everything my parents taught me was so true and indelible for life. Just like me, us and our little stubborn teenage minds. I have wished so many times that I had not taken everything my parents taught me for granted back then, when I had to finally get it by making the same mistakes and learned it by my own embarrassment, my own errors.
This country has everything for you to conquer and achieve. It has the best people in business, technology, arts, everything. It is the land of dreams and innovation. Once you find your own dream, you try everything in your capability to accomplish it. You make a map with steps you need in order to reach your goal. You create a plan for you to complete the map, and you will see yourself getting to your finish line just so quickly. For so many times, many billionaires have said it that if you are under 30, you will go out, you will try, you will fall, and you will stand up and you will do it again. You will not learn from your achievement, but you will learn from the mistakes and times you trip you have to take to get the achievement.
Another factor that I always tell people when they are asking me about the difficulties in my oversea life is about interaction with people. In the very first year, you will soon find yourself screened out of the social life if you are not feeling comfortable with the lifestyle. It will be very difficult because you were familiar with an environment where people around you speak your language and live your culture. But, you are in a new environment now. You will have a hard time accepting or adapting to the new culture.
However, if you can’t find a way to accept the lifestyle, and choose to stay in your comfort zone, and you start to find people who came from your hometown, then you will soon face many problems in your language and social skills. If you don’t use it, you will never improve it. Language is the only bridge that can connect you and other people, but social skills will help other people to really understand who you are. Being good with social skills will help you be more comfortable to step out of your comfort zone, and it will help you make more friends and expand your social connection. Connections are one of the most important factors that will make your life easier and more fulfilling. I have been taught this by one of my most talented friend.
He is one of my dearest friends, Minh Mac, he started his journey in a small city in Kansas, in a small community college. He fought through the loneliness of an out-of-nowhere city with zero Vietnamese friends. He took it as a challenge. Three years later, I met him the first time, and he was a senior at the time. The very first thing I realized before I even met him is that everybody I was talking to knew who Minh Mac was; they remembered him as one of the kindest, genuine friends. He became popular among all the native speakers and all other international student. Because he worked hard enough to be confident in his language and his education, after three years, he has achieved his goal of growing himself both personally and professionally.
At the end of his undergraduate program, he was the CBA Outstanding Graduating Senior in Business, and also as a student speaker in the Kansas State Commencement of Fall 2015. He was the very first international student as a Student Speaker. He mentioned in his speech that it was true that five years ago when he flew over the big Pacific Ocean, to this country with the language barriers as big as the ocean, yet in the end, it all paid off.
It is not easy to be an international student, I have to warn you. It can be frightening, but as long as you can stand up and persevere, it will never be impossible to accomplish anything. Minh always told me, “If you can put five more miles into your effort, effort will award you.” You fight through it with everything in your capability, and soon enough, you will find nothing to be scary anymore. Be Minh Mac!
You can find more about Minh Mac here.
Phuong Viet Nguyen is in his third year of study at Kansas State University, where he is majoring in Management Information Systems.