So about a year and a couple months-ish ago, I had finished Pre-U and had a flight ticket booked overseas, because that was where I thought I wanted to go to further my studies, broaden my horizons and to effectively live a new life. It seemed perfect at face value, all the things I heard about being overseas, the more “open minded” people, the freedom, the minimum wage (bless), the fact that public transport is actually on time, the fresh air and all that jazz.
Well I’m here to shed some light on my personal experience studying abroad.
Open Minded People
So, here’s the thing, I met a pretty numerous amount of people in my 9 months abroad, I’d use many words to describe them, open minded isn’t exactly one of them. I mean sure, they were open to hear things, but it doesn’t mean they actually listened. When it came to hospitality, most individuals said things out of habit rather than authenticity, and that really caught me off guard, I realized that people were being nice for the sake of it, they couldn’t really care less about doing something nice for someone else. It’s hard to explain, but you can see it in their body language, it was hard to take in.
The word respect was thrown around a lot, I respect this, I respect that, I respect errybody’ all day errday’. Now I’m not saying that everyone there is like that, I did meet some genuinely kind souls abroad, but the term open minded didn’t apply to a lot of people I met.
In terms of ratio though, the more people you meet : the more douchebags you’ll eventually meet, and lemme tell you, they aren’t shy about it either.
The Weather Is Better
Okay now this one is a bit of a long shot, it’s really up to personal preference. (Also Game of Thrones references WHAT’S GOOD)
I loved Fall.
It was beautiful to be outside, the air was always fresh, the wind was blowing,
The trees were in wonderful shades of orange, yellow, green, more and everything in between.
I awoke to the sound of birds flying south, greeted by the sun’s kiss.
I wore a coat over every shirt, layered my clothes in colorful arrangements and always had a cup of coffee in one hand and a bagel or muffin in the other.
You’d wish this weather was all year round, it wasn’t too cold that I couldn’t go for morning runs, but it wasn’t too hot that I’d have to layer down and lug around a large coat with me.
Winter was a different story.
It was so bloody cold.
Layer upon layer upon layer never seemed enough. A slight breeze felt like someone pouring ice down your back, and it was never a slight breeze.
It was a depressive gloom all around, the trees were leafless, there were no birds singing, no animals out and about, there was no sign of nature anywhere. Simply silence.
The snow came and went as it pleased, the aftermath of melted slushes of it mixed with mud and dirt was as hard to look at as it was to maneuver around.
Plus do you know how hard it is to get out of bed at 7am for an 8am class when the other outside is -15 degrees and all you want to do is forget all your responsibilities and stay in your warm comfortable bed.
If you’re like me and you grew up with strict Asian parents, the thought of having your own place and the time and space to do whatever you want must be one of the biggest benefits of going overseas, that was exactly that for me. Of course freedom from my parents meant that I also had to do my own chores, which I never really had a problem with.. Until I had to juggle life like a real adult.
In typical broke university student fashion, I more or less had cereal/cup noodles for breakfast and dinner, 80% of lunch consisted of me asking myself if I really needed to eat 3 meals a day and 20% was me simply not having the time for it because in even more typical university student fashion I’d leave all my work to the last minute.
It was wonderful though, being able to walk out of my room at 3am to go for walks or for midnight coffee runs with friends without having to go through the stone cold wall that is my parents, it wasn’t in me doing all these things that I experienced freedom, but the fact that I knew that I could more or less anything I wanted at anytime that really hit me that yeah, I’m an adult now.
I’ve brought home a lot from my short journey from the other side of the world, one of the more important things though was that I learned to really appreciate home. Having a home cooked meal ready for me or knowing that my parents were always a phone call away and boiiiiiiii let me tell you, you’ll miss your parents a lot when you’re overseas, I’ll guarantee that.
Studying abroad has allowed me to grow in a way that I don’t think I would have if I had stayed at home. However now that I am back, I do indeed miss having a place to myself where I needed to answer to only me, but nevertheless I have learned to be gracious and more patient and most importantly I’ve learned that home is where you choose to make it, and there’s no place like home.