Ryan Chan's picture

Miles from Home, Gaining Miles of Maturity

Before coming to the United States, the thought of studying in America seemed easy and relaxing. Maybe the worst thing we could think of at that time was missing home, familiar food, and our friends and family. 

But once we were here, we would think otherwise. 

It is very common for international students to initially face hardships and feel pressure to quickly adapt and adjust to a new environment. Let's face it, most of us international students lived like princes and princesses back in our countries, let alone blessed to study in the United States. Some of us may have had house helpers to clean our bedrooms, or personal drivers to bring us around the city. So by the time when we arrived in the US, all these "treatments" we had just vanished! And not only that, we were on our own! But of course, let's not fail to recognize and admire those who have truly worked hard to earn spots in US schools. 

In times of adversity, there are only two simple but profound actions we could take: Give up or suck it up. 

In my experience as a student, I've seen a lot of my fellow international students choosing a variety of paths. There are many who chose to go back home and enjoy the life they had before; however, they went back empty handed. But also there are many who took hardship as a discipline and became stronger individuals. At least good thing you know that by my writing this, I chose to do the latter!

As much as I hated it at first, I took it as a "character training," which is shaping and molding me to be more mature, thoughtful and independent.

I have started to see and consider a lot of things, which I hadn't before. For example, back then I would be careless and forgetful of my belongings because I would have someone taking care of them anyway. But now, there's no way I'm going to leave my phone on the bus! Another would be not wasting food anymore because I need to save that last extra bite as my 3am study snack! Also, I now know how to be more sensitive and emphatic towards my fellow international students' needs because we're all going through the same process! In short, my perception of my environment, community and myself have become broader and deeper, which all of this results from being alone in a new environment.  

After all these experiences, we most importantly have finally learned to appreciate our blessings back home. We now won't take for granted the precious little things our parents, helpers and workers did to prepare and meet our needs, the emotions we see from our family, friends and relatives, and the place that made us feel complete. 

There is hidden beauty in every suffering. And that's what keeps me motivated and excited about the things I face as a student thousands of miles away from home sweet home. 

As you're about to embark on a new chapter of life as an international student, or even if you are just beginning to considering studying in the US, I invite you to embrace this mentality. Sooner or later, everyone will perceive a more mature and thoughtful you.