In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Study Abroad.”
The question today’s prompt asked is where I would choose to go for a year if I had the chance to study abroad. Coincidentally I am currently on a study abroad program in Australia, while already being an international student in the US.
The why question is one I got a lot recently and the easiest one I can answer probably. Why not?
I am young, only 20, I am free, not bound to any job or place and when else would I get the chance to explore a new culture, meet, live and study with people my age but raised differently and simply travel some more.
My initial choice of studying in the US came easy. It was far away from my parents and my own country that I had grown disappointed in, I got a chance to live in one of the most beautiful places in the world, enjoy a world-renowned education and experience a permanent summer. UCLA meant all those for me.
Leaving now for Australia was an even easier decision.
I needed a new change, a new adventure. It was again one of the furthest points I could find on a map. LA-Canberra time difference is 18 hours. It was the best choice for a school in my field. ANU is ranked number 7 in the world for political science. I got to add number 34 to my ever growing list of countries visited and I had always had a fascination for the unknown land down under. The fact that is was actually cheaper to study here than in LA as an international student came as a bonus.
Now one month in my newest adventure I must admit I have mixed feelings. I came in overly confident that I had basically no need to adjust whatsoever. I had already been an international freshman and had done quite well. I had already moved to an English speaking country and hadn’t had any problems. I had traveled the world and never felt lonely. But I was surprised at how many challenges I encountered.
Nobody cared about me. The freshmen wanted to make friends with others who would be here as long as they were. The uperclassmen already had tightly knit groups of friends. Semesters run quite differently than the fast-paced quarter system I was used to and doing research by myself without being constantly tested requires all my determination. Tennis training proved to be a huge issue since Melbourne is the tennis capital of Australia and not Canberra. Slang use is wide-spread and I often find myself nodding and smiling and having no idea what the other person is saying. Even traffic being on the other side of the road requires daily reminders to look right before crossing. And on top of that, to my impression, Australians are so laid back and content with their country my international background and capabilities make no impression. Oh, you speak five languages, cool, let me grab another drink.
However, by all means, I do not and will not regret the decision to come here. Worse case scenario if my situation doesn’t improve I will have cut off a country from the list I mentally keep with possible ones to live in after I graduate. In any other possible course of events I emerge more mature, more confident, more open-minded, more cultured, more knowledgeable than before I left. How could someone regret that?
School here is amazing, with smaller classes and professors who insist on practicality (policy briefs instead of essays is just one example). ANU and Camberra are truly international spaces where I’ve met people from around the world. And I haven’t even begun to explore the rest of the country or the other major cities.
It’s true. I’ve had some tough days when I missed my already established routines and friends at UCLA. But I also enjoy the challenge of making it here as well. To consider myself an international citizen or part of the globalised youth I should be able to have a positive experience here. And even while eating lunch alone ( a feat I am definitely not used to ) I am certain I will find my way around. And if not, one can live through anything 6 months right?
Daily Prompt: The Little Things. Describe a little thing — one of the things you love that define your world but is often overlooked.
Today’s daily prompt is something that resonated with me, as I am one of those persons who believe that live if made out of details and little things.
Perhaps because of this belief I also found it very difficult to pinpoint only one small feature of my life. But I as was starring at the blank word document in front of me, my mind frantically trying to separate one idea from the millions that were passing through it, I noticed that I was involuntarily biting at my necklace, actually the medallion on it.
And then it hit me. My entire life is somehow summed up in that medallion and it stands for so many of my actions, my experiences, my desires, my frustrations that I couldn’t possibly find something else of that little size but of that enormous importance to me and my daily life.
I found it difficult to convince myself to post things here for the past couple of weeks. I felt I was a hypocrite for believing that the stuff I write has any meaning or that the writing itself- any value. I missed it, so I kept writing in my diary but I didn’t trust myself enough to publish anything.
Today, I learned that perhaps trusting somebody isn’t that bad. Having been hiding all my life, pretending, trying to elude questions and maintaining a happy appearance has hardened me. Especially after the one person I confided myself in disappointed me enormously, trust became something nobody could earn from me. All I could see were false friends waiting for the opportunity to see one of my weaknesses, to use the information I would let slip against me or to their own advantage. Slowly but surely, without me even realising I began asking myself every time I spoke: “Do they need to hear this? Does this give any of my secrets away? Could they use this?” Inevitably, I stopped giving voice to many thoughts for this fear. I was never alone, being lonely would be a hint that something was not quite right, that I might not be that happy person. But I didn’t have friends either. I got along with everybody and nobody actually suspected that I didn’t particularly hang out with somebody. I was constantly on the move, gravitating between groups but never really bonding with anyone for fear of being exposed.
I always said my greatest fear was being mediocre and that I want to live an exciting life. Well I can assure you I got my wish. I have done some amazing things during my short life but what I feel I have gained the most is the emotional maturity I have reached.
These past two weeks in which I have not written were some of the most demanding and challenging ones I have ever experienced. And I now refer to the emotional roller coaster I have been through and not one of those exciting weeks of visiting 5 countries and trying out living to the full.
And the reason why I have not written is because I do enjoy having clarity in my posts. I want to know what I want to say and how to do it and even in my diary when writing through states of sadness or being angry or extremely happy I usually find that balance between my emotions and the peace of mind I need in order to be coherent.
In my last post I wrote about a decision I had to make and a choice that was laid in front of me. I knew the time was coming to face that question and I still felt unprepared. I had successfully avoided it for the past 10 years of my existence, it was impossible for me to sit down and solve my problem in a few days. Now, I can contently say I know the answer.
I need to change my about page . And this is killing me.
I learned to embrace change as a positive thing some time ago. It usually means development, evolution. But today, I am uncertain if this change I need to make can in anyway be for the better. And the dramatic part is that I cannot avoid it.
In short, I am no longer a tennis player on the international junior tour. My last year as a junior has officially ended on the 31st December 2012. And today, in relation to this game I do not know how I stand and what I am.
Questions regarding my future in this sport arose again. Questions I have tried to deffer for as long as possible. That means for the last 10 years, as I have been under constant pressure from my friends, parents and teachers to give it up in order to focus on school.
I know I have always know I would not become pro. I am aware I am not that good and even if I was the career is too uncertain. Even if you have tremendous success you need to retire at 30 and rethink and restart your life over. Of course I dreamed of such a life and quietly hoped I was going to be good enough for it to become my obvious choice. But despite my hard work and wishes it did not happen that way.
At that point where it became obvious for everyone, including me, that I did not have a future on the pro tour, I came up with the middle way between that life and quitting. I could not even start thinking of giving up, it was that painful. Playing college tennis seemed the answer. I would continue my sports career for at least four more years, have a way to fund my studying and overall be happy. Continue reading
Today is the last day of this week’s writing challenge.
An intense week of writing and a habit I hope to continue next year. And I won’t say it’s my resolution to make sure I’ll keep it. It is also the last post of 2012.
2012 was not a bad year at all. But all the conclusions and lessons learned belong in my head and in my heart. On paper belong the thoughts for 2013.
Next year at this time I hope I will be at an amazing party with my newly made friends from the awesome university I’ll be attending, hopefully in the US or UK. No more staying with my parents on New Year’s eve at a sad table.