Studying abroad is not an easy journey, however, it is a great opportunity to grow.
I am a young girl from Angola, currently in my third year of Business Management at the African Leadership College, Mauritius. Well, let me give you a brief on how I got to Mauritius.
This was my first time to fly out of my country and live in a new place which means having to restart your life. I simply fell in love with the school’s learning model, before I had even experienced it. The power of persuasion and marketing got me!
Everything started from the moment I told my parents that I got admitted to ALC. My mom at that time was skeptical and did not want me to come in the first place. On the other hand, my dad was suspicious that it could be human trafficking! I was very determined to go to ALC and made it my mission to convince them to allow me to go. They finally got convinced and of course, this was not an easy process, I underwent an intense consultation process with some of the uncles in the family before I left.
Living on campus should be something to make us grow for the better, and not to make us more childish than when our parents look after us.
Two weeks later, I arrived in Mauritius and the first challenge I faced was the language barrier. I came from a Portuguese speaking country and had never uttered a single English word from my mouth. You can imagine how difficult this process was and the struggle to adapt. Regardless of this reality, I had always wanted to learn how to speak English fluently but guess what? I never knew the process I would have to go through to achieve this goal.
I guess everything went well and now I speak some English, so I thank God for this. In fact, I am writing this article to talk about my experience as a study abroad student and not an English Immersion student. Maybe my next article could be on this, I can share more about the struggles of learning a new language and how to overcome them!
In a very diverse place such as ALC, with more than 20 countries across Africa, you have to learn how to hold yourself accountable. You need to learn how to be your own doctor for emotional problems, disappointments, heartbreakings, etc… However, GOD has always been there to show me that living on campus should make us grow for the better and not to make us more childish than when our parents look after us.
In living with diverse people and adapting myself to the new environment, I have learned six things that held myself accountable; I hope it is going to help whoever is considering or currently studying abroad.
Do not let the context shape your identity
It is crucial to be open-minded when it comes to a new context. You will find people from different cultures, backgrounds, etc. However, knowing your boundaries and values will make you stand strong when it comes to who you are. No matter how far you are from your parents, your character should always be strengthened through self-discipline, self-awareness, and self-regulation. Do not follow others, make the difference.
Everyone has their own clock
Sometimes we found ourselves following other people’s clock. Many times, you will see that everyone is doing something, and that will pressure you to do something too in order to prove yourself. Let me tell you what will happen, you will get so tired that the only thing on your mind is going to be: I AM NOT ENOUGH. But guess what? You are MORE THAN ENOUGH, all you need to acknowledge is that everyone has their own clock. It seems that everyone is going faster than you, but the truth is that we are going to the same place, although, we choose different routes. People work under different conditions so do not follow them.
Be your own kind of beauty
Beauty is in the eyes of those who want to see. It comes from the inside then expand to the outside. Beauty is not about your skin color or your body perfection, neither your hair. It is about personality, character, and identity. It is about how you see yourself, not how people see you. Beauty is acknowledging the perfection inside of you.
Walk by faith, not by sight
Speak to it and that shall happen through faith. Do not look at the future with the eyes of the present, your current state does not define your future. The more you struggle, the greater the testimony is. Plan, yes make plans for your life but, know that your plans for the future do not define who you will be, rather they describe who you want to be. How you overcome any obstacles will make all the difference.
Have a vision, so you know where you want to go
It is really important to hold a vision with you. Knowing your purpose in the place you are planning to go (or already in), will hold yourself accountable for your objectives. Therefore, you should be aware of the person you are when going to study abroad, and the person you want to become after the program.
Have FUN and be GRATEFUL
There are opportunities that you live only once. Live an intentional happy life, unplug, unleash your potential, build connections and be grateful for everything you are living today. BUUUUT, all in your limit! Oh yeah, do not forget, living on campus should make you grow. Remember, when you go back home, your parents should see that it was worth sending you to study abroad and that you have grown for the better.
I asked a few people about things they would advise someone planning to study abroad. These are some of their perspectives:
- Being open-minded when it comes to a new culture/environment/context;
- Have the vision to guide you towards your goals and objectives. In other words, have a clear personal development goal in that school;
- Do not refuse to grow, build a strong network and make the difference;
- Learn how to take care of yourself, befriend your emotions, work out and drink lots of water:)
- Have friends that you can turn to when you are feeling low. Surround yourself with a tribe that supports you, and does not hesitate to call you out when you are slacking;
Bless you and safe journey on study abroad!