I’ve always wanted to study abroad – not so much for the prestigious degree or career prospects – but because I’ve always wanted to get a feel of what it’s like to leave home and live and study in a completely foreign country where you don’t know the language, the rules, the norms, the people. I’m not a fan of change, but change has been a constant in my life since a very young age and that’s why I was so sure I could handle whatever I had coming.
My third semester was a roller coaster ride – I had the best time and the worst time. In four months, I learnt things about myself and other people that I couldn’t have had I chosen to stay in my comfort zone at home. Studying abroad has given me experiences that’s made me look beyond my bed of roses. It’s opened my eyes to some gorgeously beautiful things, but it has also opened my eyes to some things that have slowly started to crumble my naively innocent idea of the world.
I’ve learnt there is no one way to life. What’s considered normal in one place could be frowned upon in another. What’s considered taboo to you couldn’t be more ordinary to me. I’ve learnt the only standard that can be put on life is peace and happiness.
I’ve learnt whatever I choose to do in life from now on – whether it’s the course I choose or the job I do – it has to be something I truly enjoy doing. I will not spend a minute studying or working on something I don’t enjoy.
I’ve learnt not everyone I let into my life is good for me. I’ve learnt almost everyone has an agenda, and you have to watch out for yourself. I’ve learnt there’s no solid right or wrong, there’s only understanding in every situation – you can either understand a situation or you can’t. Above all, I’ve learnt I’m not as nice as I thought I was and I can finally admit that I have some toxic traits too and it’s not always the other person.
I don’t know what studying abroad means for a child who was always very independent. But studying abroad for a child who wasn’t means you have to figure out everything by yourself, from the chores you didn’t know quite existed to the complicated exams you have to pass, to relationships, to just about everything else – and with each thing you figure out – doesn’t matter if you got it right or wrong – you grow. I can afford to have new experiences hitting at me one after another; I can try new things, tumble and fall and get up; and looking around me I realize it’s not so much a privilege for everyone. And if that’s not all you could ask for at 24, what is?
Thank you for another beautiful semester abroad. ❤️