My 3 Greatest Lesson(s) from Studying Abroad (Final Reflection)

Finally, my last day in Maryland has passed. It was pretty sad to see Maryland and not knowing when will be the next time I’m going to see it again – McKeldin library where I spent days revising for exam and doing my assignments, the stadium where we cheered for Maryland and getting super excited when we smashed Purdue on a football game, seeing Stamp building for the last time where so many memories were made…. Time flies too fast.

It wasn’t an easy semester at all. There were so many times I wished I didn’t even bother to go study abroad, but now I’m happy I persevered through (that’s for another blog post that’s coming soon!). And for sure, there were so many lessons that I learned through studying abroad. Here I’ll talk about my 3 greatest lessons that I learned in Maryland.

Humanity

Seriously, this trip has restored my faith in humanity. There were so many occasions where I wouldn’t pull through without the kindness of people around me. For example, 2 days before departure, I didn’t know where I was going to stay in the USA when I arrived. It drove me mad, because I’m someone who runs on schedule. I can’t stand it when I don’t know what’s going to happen (due to studying abroad, that has vanished in half now). And then my pastor asked his friends in the USA and one lovely family hosted me for few days. They turn out to be one of the nicest humans I have ever met on earth and provided so many things that I need. They even lend me things like pillows, pans, cutleries, hair dryer and other stuff that I would have needed to buy if they didn’t offer. This all happened when I was a stranger to them! (Thanks to Serpa family!)

This is not an isolated case. Once I was so stressed with so many problems relating to my new life in USA and studying abroad and nearly decided to quit this study abroad altogether. Again, a complete stranger came up to me and started comforting me, listened to all my rants and offered friendship when I told her that I didn’t have friends yet (it was my first week on campus). She becomes my best friend since then 😉 (Thanks Emily!) Another time, I had a problem with my accommodation and a complete stranger from a church I was going to offered me to sleep in her place whenever I needed too (thanks Shelby J)

Studying abroad led me to a place where I was vulnerable enough and depended on other people’s kindness. You can’t receive kindness unless you ask, and usually you wont ask unless you need it – in time where it gets difficult. But I’m seriously glad that I went through those times – a place where I see another side of humanity, a different side than the one broadcasted in the newspaper and pictured by media.

Resilience – it’s worth it at the end

I can’t count how many times in the process I felt like giving up. Studying abroad wasn’t easy. There are piles of documentation to fill, 345898457 things to arrange at the same time together with waves of emotion all at the same time. You are frustrated with the different time zone, nervous that you are coming to a completely brand-new country, happy that you are going abroad, sad for saying goodbye to people that you’ve known a long time…. It wasn’t easy. Well, I’m going to explain this further on my next post, I promise.

I couldn’t really go back because I burned my bridge. There is no way I could just buy another flight and go home after travelling for thousands of miles away. So the only option to go through it is to persevere. Well, I am here to tell you that it was worth it. All the positive experiences that I had, new friends that I encountered, beautiful fall scenery far surpasses the difficulties that I had. Moreover, I learned one of the most important character in life – perseverance. I learned how to push through when things get difficult, and I believe that as long as I persevere, I can get through anything in life.

Another pair of glasses to see life

I think this is the most important lesson that I could only obtained through exploring the other side of the world and interacting with people from another culture for an extended period of time e.g. I wouldn’t have this without studying abroad. Why? Yes, I can explore another side of the world, but I would most probably go as a tourist without significant interaction with local people. Or, I can interact with people from another culture by having friends from the USA, but it’s not the same with interacting and living with them for an extended period of time.

Why is this important to me? I don’t know where to start talking about it. I definitely understand a lot more about American people and why they have certain stereotypes. I understand which stereotypes are correct and which ones are wrong. I understand a lot more about why they behave with a certain way. This is called cultural understanding and it really helps me to relate to Americans, which I found really difficult to do in the past.

Also I found that they see things differently from the rest of the world – why, I have no idea. Sometimes, it’s very helpful to see how they see things and see one thing with different perspectives. It literally changed me to another person. In terms of how I think, how I behave and how I perceive things, I am a different person compared to myself before going to study abroad – hopefully to the better.

At the end of this article, it’s pretty obvious that I really treasured my experience in the USA. It was the time where I lost myself, discovered myself and conquered different challenges in life. It was difficult, but it’s worth it. Oh,  you don’t believe it? Go and prove it yourself! 😉

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