Maryland’s lessons

It’s been a hectic semester in the States, but what kind of ChemE degree will it be if it isn’t so? Not to forget, my grades contributes towards my degree and are not a pass fail grade. Arriving in London at 9am and being asked for my passport in the most British accent you could ever imagine, I chuckled and told myself, “Joyce, you’re back in England”. It was then that I felt my American study abroad experience had ended. It feels weird and good to be back in England, meeting familiar faces and places.

It has been slightly over a month since my semester in Maryland ended, I guess I’ve given myself enough time to reflect and perhaps procrastinate a little to write this post. My Maryland experience had taught me to be accepting and grateful. If not for the encouragement to go for it despite not gaining a spot at my first choice of university (as it didn’t have any spaces for students going for a semester exchange), I guess I would have missed this incredible opportunity to have an American college experience. Studying at two of the best institutions had engineered me to be a better engineer, more importantly an individual. I had learnt how to be a better listener, though it might be tough at times with the enthusiasm I have on the discussion topic. As I sat back, kept my mouth shut, listened, and observed, I realized I had learnt much more. Remember, it’s easy to make a fool out of yourself, superseding in discussions which you don’t really have an idea what is going on. (Fun fact: I learnt loads about people’s opinion on USA’s 45th President)

The incredible people whom I met and the lessons I learnt along the way had molded me, for the better (hopefully). The never ending weekly homework assignments and midterms had forced me to improve my time management. A couple of weeks into the semester, I found myself having more time exploring nearby cities and more opportunities to people watch. Hey, people watching is strangely addicting. It allowed me to understand the culture and environment in a foreign country, how one reacts, giving me the opportunity to understand the people, reevaluate the principles I believe in and improve myself. I realized there are so many things I didn’t know about the Americans until I was there, living with them. I could say, you would not be able to really understand from the American movies you’ve watch until you truly live in the country for a substantial period!

Take risks for greater opportunities – one of the key skills I learnt during my time across the pond. For instance, booking a flight from home (Malaysia) to the US with short layovers, approximately an hour or so. This means that I had a huge risk of missing my connecting flight and might have to spend more to get another. Indeed, I missed my connecting flight due to a delay in my previous flight. I had to explain with the officers and was booked onto the next available flight the next day. I spent a night at my transit, but was privilege to receive a place for a night at one of the 5 stars hotels which includes a meal. This gave me an opportunity to enjoy at a luxurious hotel which otherwise I could not afford. Though a good experience, it took me a good 48 hours to reach Maryland! It was exhausting. (Note: I’m not encouraging you to get flight tickets with short layovers to enjoy this luxury, try avoiding it).

Wrapping up my reflection thoughts, the past four months I had in the United States was a class that I couldn’t sign up for that teaches me all these lessons. It was fun to discover new places and forge lasting friendships with individuals from across the globe.

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