In yesterday’s part one post, I listed three external reasons about why you should study abroad. Today, we’re gonna look into how studying abroad can benefit you as a person.
1. A broader way of seeing problems
The worst word in the world is “stereotype.” How many of you think all Chinese know Kongfu before you actually learn about real Chinese culture? If not, how many of you think we raise pandas as pets? These two are just examples among tons of stereotypes people from other countries have about China.
Same thing applies for us. All my family members worried that hamburgers are all I can get in the US. They still worry about that even though I told them several times that’s not the thing. We think Americans are all super independent, paying the full tuition on their own. We think every american likes partying.
Stereotype exists everywhere and they are understandable given that they’ve never been to the country. Studying abroad is the best way you can get rid of stereotypes. Before I came to France, I thought that French eats baguette every morning, which is true during my stay in Paris. But in Rennes, in my host family, they sometimes don’t even eat breakfast. A glass of juice is the breakfast of my host brothers most of the time.
Studying abroad can also make you aware of the existence of stereotypes. The reason they are called stereotypes is because people who think so do not think they are wrong. After you study abroad, you will have a different perspective whenever a thought about a culture is mentioned. You will know that it might be just a stereotype. Awareness is important. You are more open-minded in this way.
2. More invincible
Everyone thinks s/he is invincible before s/he actually broke down. You might have doubts about your survival ability but you would never be able to actually experience that kind of feeling unless you are in that situation. Last semester, I know that I will suffer but that time will pass. But when the hard time actually came, I felt depressed and devastated. I completely forgot about what I said about this will pass. Afterwards, throwing back to that time, I realized that was what I thought as suffer.
If you’ve been following my blog closely, you might notice that I’ve posted a lot of complaints. Two main thing: ability to communicate and weird schedule. Did I suffer? Of course I did. Was I devastated? Yeah, I guess a bit. But whatever that is, that is nothing compared with the first few days in the U.S. That few days were like hell. I cried every day even when I was talking with my parents. In case you don’t know, I always try not to cry in front of my parents. Vulnerability is the last thing I want my parents to see. But that few days, I was really devastated. I kept waking up in the middle of a night. I had stomachache from the damn eating schedule they made. I cannot understand a word my roommate said. I got two shots of vaccinations. Oh my lord. I would never want to be in that kind of life again. I was not even an adult that time. (well, I mean, I was 4 months to 18 so it didn’t make a difference)
The thing is after that, I’ve barely felt the same way of depression. Didn’t I ever encountered something as bad as that few days? Probably I did but in a different way. The thing is, after that few days, I am more prepared in front of struggles. I made it at that time. I should be able to make through this time as well. You might suffer. But you don’t suffer as much as first time because you’ve been in this position.
Here, in France, the first few days, I cannot communicate with them. I was nervous and unsettled. I was worried but I had no trouble sleeping or doing other work. I know the time will pass. Worst case scenario, I don’t talk a lot of them for a month but just eat the meals and keep myself healthy. It does not mean that I will be deported or something else. Thinking about the first few days in US. Worst case scenario, it will take me 10 days to adjust to the jet lag and I need to buy some meds for stomachache. There’s nothing that will affect my survival in US.
Every time you suffer, you are strengthening yourself in front of difficulties. Studying abroad, from my perspective, is the most challenging thing as a young adult since you can rely on yourself. Your parents cannot help. You grow a lot as a person.
3. Appreciate more.
Appreciation can be analyzed from different aspects. The thing I want to say is about the preparation for studying abroad. If you are a U.S. citizen, this point does not apply to you lol since you guys don’t need a visa for most of the world.
As a Chinese citizen, I feel the pain of applying for visas. For the purpose of this trip, I got two new visas. One for Canada and one other for France. Why? Because I am flying from Rochester to Paris, layover in Toronto. I don’t know if I need a Canada Visa but to be safe, I applied for one.
The application process is so much trouble. Since I’ve already bought the flight, paid for the trip(required to be able to apply for visa), if I got rejected, I am screwed. I started preparing for Schengen visa since the end of February. My visa appointment was at the end of April. (Here is my post about that appointment.) During those two months, I don’t remember how many break downs I had for the materials I need to prepare. France embassy here is very ambiguous about what they need and what type of visa you should apply in terms of your purpose in France. They don’t accept calls or emails for questions. The only time you can contact them is 4-5pm during weekdays. I worried most about the financial statement. As an international student who has an individual bank account aside from my parents, I did not know which one should I submit. How much is enough? What kind of insurance is good? How many copies I need and how many would you take? Do they have to be color copy? There were only too many questions I want to ask the embassy but I did not get a chance.
I got the visa in the end but it was such a tiring process. I asked so many people why do have to submit our itinerary, tickets, and hotel reservations? I cannot make reservations before I know that I will get my visa. Why is this so demanding? My parents told me that they want to really make sure you are there for what you claim you will do.
Why do we even have the thing called visa?
I did not understand but now I guess that it’s just the best way the world can be set up. It’s the way that will be good for every one. The most fair way for the world. You have to understand the purpose. Even though you won’t lie, there’re people that will lie. There are ones that will get a visa for some hidden purposes. The demanding process is tiring but it also guarantees the world to function well. I learn to appreciate through the process.
For US citizens, you don’t need a visa to come here. But I still hope you feel the same way.
Wow, this is a long post. I actually have a lot of homework that I haven’t even touched on. I need to study but I don’t want to study. I don’t like reading history in French or in any other language. I did about 15 sudokus today to avoid my homework. But somehow you have to face them. The last week. Let’s do it!
See you guys tomorrow!