My biggest fear in life is starting new things and adapting to the new environment. It is a huge pressure when I need to leave my hometown for the first time without my family in the long-term period. Some people who know me since I was a child never have any expectations that I will go far away by myself. Everyone knows that I was childish and always need my mom to prepare anything (but now I become more and more independent 🙂 ). Deep down in my heart, I like to try new things but afraid to make the first move. But, if I’m not taking any move when I will be better than before? Am I right? So, the First move is so important to make a change!
It’s not easy to blend and mingle with new people, it feels awkward and shy and feels like an outsider. The first time I heard that I will be able to go to study abroad, I feel happy but unsure about my decision. Study abroad is one of a lifetime opportunity that I have and I need to take it. Of course, I have a chance to not choose study abroad. But, living inside a comfort zone it will not help you to grow and learn about your surroundings. Trust me you should try to do something outside your box, and you will feel different.
Well, in my previous blog I talk a lot about the good experience during my study. Now, I will tell more about some difficulties that I face. I know every people will have a different perception to see the problem. But for me at that time these experiences are unforgettable and a good lesson for me for the future. Here are some problems that me as an international student experienced in Singapore.
More than four years I was not in Indonesia, and I don’t know how many family gathering that I missed. That’s really sad that I’m not able to spend many family gathering together especially during Christmas and New Year (yes at my university I have class in December). When you are away from home, you will miss your annoying siblings, miss your mom (especially when you are sick) and miss your dad’s advice about life.
At that time I just realize that sometimes I took all the gathering for granted. I feel like, after study abroad, I miss to gather with all my family. I understand sometimes we don’t appreciate what we have until we need to put more effort to get it.
Not knowing what’s hip back home
It happens a lot of time to me. I can’t deny that I don’t know anymore what is popular in my hometown. Once every 6 months, I come back (if I have no exam or essay) and already miss a lot of things in Bandung. A new restaurant, new chilling places, new mall, etc. I feel almost like an alien when I come back, the road is different, the place is different and many different things that appear in my hometown.
You need to understand that some university will have a different holiday like Indonesia. Also, you will have limited time during your holiday. You might not have time to meet and spend your time with your friend and make you become “kind of different person to them”. After not being around for long-time, you will feel unfamiliar to your hometown. Everything seems so different and maybe you will feel like your friends also change. It would be normal if you experience this. It will be difficult but I suggest you have a good adaptation skill. It means you have the courage to start a conversation to your friend and able to adjust your self to the different environment.
Cause in the end the world will change without your permission.
Getting lost is a very normal thing when you come to the new places. I don’t know how many time I get lost in Singapore in the first month. I feel like no matter how many places that I memorized, in the end, I will find myself in an unfamiliar place – aka LOST. Sometimes I take a wrong bus or take a correct bus but stop at the wrong bus stop.
It can be fun if you are going with your friends but it will be a short panic attack if you are on your own. Getting lost makes me now some new places in Singapore and a new route of the bus so later I will not get lost in that area again. Also, it makes me really aware of my surroundings and makes me never forget to bring the bus and MRT (train in Singapore) map in my bag.
Feeling like an outsider
As an international student, you will feel like you are alone with many people on your first day. And it is normal! You don’t need to worry about that. It happens to me on my first day. But, when you already have a friend, slowly but sure you will make it. No more feeling like an outsider. But, you will need the courage to start a conversation with others and show them your value. If you don’t make a move, how people know and recognize you? Right?
Language or cross-cultural barriers
You can’t deny when you come to a new country you will see many different things. The food, the environment, the people and many things are not like familiar to you. Language and culture always be the first problem when you travel to the new country. At first, you just need to respect their culture and try to adapt to the situation.
Luckily, I went to Singapore, a place near Indonesia. So, the culture will not be so different. But, my problem in Singapore is the language. It forces me to understand and learn Singlish and Chinese (don’t expect me to speak Chinese cause I can’t). For some occasions, I might understand Chinese but it just because the survival instinct is on. In the future, if I have an opportunity to learn more language, I think I will consider learning Chinese.
Going to the new country will allow you to have many friends from different country. You will meet new people who will teach you new culture and you need to deal with the habit that unfamiliar to you. Since many of you are not from the country, you need to accept unexpected good-by when they need to go back to their home country. Many reasons will make everyone need to go back to their hometown. For example, graduation. Graduation is the hardest moment for me. It is a happy day but also sad that I need to separate from many of my friends who are not from Indonesia. The problem is you need to put super extra effort to meet them in person again, you will not know when you can meet them again. And not everyone is good at maintaining a long-distance friendship.
In the end, each person will face different problems in study abroad but there were all the problems when I was in Singapore. You will find many problems not only when you go study abroad but when you move to the new phase of your life. Facing a problem will sharpen your skill and make you become a better person.
Don’t be afraid to make a decision. Sometimes you make a mistake but it will teach you to not repeating the same mistake. For those of you who want to go study abroad or all of you who are an international student in any country, please don’t throw the opportunity you got and use it as wise as possible.