February 1, 2016
“I can do it. I am more than I appear to be.”
These words were swirling through my mind while I was waiting for the test books and answer sheets to be handed out by the test administration staff. I was quite nervous because it happened to be one of the most important days in my life. The preparation for the test took almost six months, and after that period of time I was absolutely sure that I wanted to study abroad. Suddenly, my thoughts were interrupted by the voice of a supervisor: “Good morning. Today you are going to take the SAT.”
I, as a current international student at Mississippi College, can say with certainty that the most important and critical part of the studying-in-another-country journey is actually making the decision. It is necessary to weigh carefully all the advantages and disadvantages of the decision and to assess your abilities and your emotional state. If you have decided that you are ready for the challenges and that you are willing to work hard in order to achieve success, then go ahead! This path is definitely for you. At this point in my own journey, the emotional support from my relatives and friends really helped me. My family was constantly making me confident that I could and I would reach my goal. I believe that every single one of us needs support while making such significant decisions that may change our whole life.
Then, once all of the required exams for admission are successfully passed and the invitation to the university of your dreams is received, you finally get on the plane. As for me, that exact moment remains bright in my memory. Overwhelming emotions just drove me crazy in a good way. On the one hand, I was afraid of leaving my old life behind, but on the other hand, I realized that lots of new and interesting things were awaiting me! You should never forget, as author Sarah Dessen said, that “The further you go, the more you have to be proud of.”
That’s easy to say, but the first month in unfamiliar surroundings is the most difficult. Most foreign students are experiencing culture shock during the first couple of weeks in a new country. The different people, different culture, and different language affect the emotional state of an international student. Sometimes, it may even seem that you are completely alone because you are cut off from the world in which you lived before. However, universities often provide help for the foreign students. For example, MC gives international students an opportunity to improve their English skills and to make an American friend with the Conversation Partner service. So keep your head up and move forward. After all, new people mean new friends, a new culture creates new experiences, and practice of a foreign language will benefit every person.
In addition to the cultural shock, problems with studying may occur during the first month. For the majority of foreign students, it can be difficult to switch to a completely different system of education and a different language in a small period of time. These students may feel anxious and more pressure while adapting to the new atmosphere. To be honest, my grades for the first tests were so bad that I was ashamed of speaking about my studying process. There were moments when I seriously wanted to quit and go all the way back home. For situations like struggling to keep up with your classes, tutoring services are available at MC. Despite these difficulties, I continued to work hard, because I knew that there is no turning back. I wanted to meet the expectations that were put on me. I wanted my parents to be proud of their daughter.
After some time of hard work in a stressful situation, everything abruptly changed. I grew accustomed to the new country, made some friends, and achieved pretty good results in studying. Sometimes I even was pleasantly surprised by my high performance! Of course I realize that I need to continue to work hard in order to maintain this achieved level, but now these efforts have nothing to do with the stress that I experienced in the beginning. Studying abroad has become a pleasure for me. Now I understand that the struggle was worth it.
Therefore, do not be afraid to change something in your lives. If you are not an international student already, but you really want to become one – do not stop there. There is nothing wrong with getting out of your comfort zone, trying to do your best to go get an education abroad, and getting important experience and knowledge.
-Anais Eliseeva, Contributing Writer
this article appeared in Vol. 97, Issue 7 of The Mississippi Collegian