The number of students who decide to continue their university studies or directly, start them abroad has increased over the years. This is due to the value that big companies give to the ability to adapt to new challenges and lifestyles as well as perfecting your second language, in my case English, since I am studying in the United States.
Going abroad is not easy, since it is like starting a new life from scratch. New friends, new colleagues, different environments, besides studying in a different language than your mother tongue, this last case can often be the most complicated adaptation to make.
It’s been almost three years since I got on the plane that took me to the United States for the first time in order to start my university career. The fact of starting a new life from scratch scares a little, and more in a country different from your own.
I still remember when I was making the line to go through customs- that took me three long hours-, what worried me the most at that moment was how to greet my future golf coach, as he came to pick me up to the airport. I did not know if I should give him two kisses like we do in Spain, hug him or shake his hand, but when the time came and I saw him, I did not stop and think and instead, I greet him with two kisses which is what we are used to in Spain. My coach was surprised because he did not expect that, but thanks to that gesture of mine, my teammates and my coach understood that it was because I came from another culture, and to make myself feel like home, among my teammates we greeted each other and said goodbye with two Kisses. This gesture helped me to adapt and to have a better relationship with my teammates, besides not missing as much Madrid.
Adapting to changes is not easy, but it helps a lot if you are open-minded, and want to meet new people and learn from different cultures. Just in the golf team, there is a great variety of nationalities, such as Icelandic, French, Swedish, Colombian, Canadian as well as American. Seeing so many people from different countries in the same situation as you, helps to move forward and make the most of the experience abroad.
My first year in the United States, my roommate, a Swedish girl who was going to be a sophomore -a second year student- in the States, told me that her first year in college had been depressing for her, she felt homesick most of her time and she was on the verge of not returning her second semester; in the morning, she went to class, in the afternoon, she trained and then studied or did homework. Doing what she was doing did not help her meet people outside of the golf team. She was a responsible girl but who did not try to open up or interact with other students because in addition to being too responsible, she was very shy. Seeing that I was very open and was meeting many people, she began to realize that to make the most of the experience abroad, not everything is to study and practise, but also to enjoy and have fun – they say that the best years of your life are one´s college years.
Honestly, from my point of view, the most valuable thing about this experience that I am living is being able to meet people from a great variety of countries; Throughout my three years in the United States, I have met people from Jordan, Egypt, China, Japan, Vietnam, Nepal, India, South America, and from different countries in Europe. And the truth is, that this experience of meeting so many people from all over the world I would not change it for anything, because each of them has taught me things I did not know, both about themselves and about their culture.
One of the many advantages offered by American universities is that they offer many resources to develop your career, for example, a person who is studying communication, has the opportunity to work for the radio of the university and thus benefit from experience; a person who likes to write, can write articles for the university newspaper, and thus, a series of different opportunities that will be worth you to fill out your curriculum, in addition to learn a lot and to know yourself a little more. These little jobs will help guide you on what to do in your future.
In the United States, classes are so well divided and organized that there is always time to do other things besides going to class. People who are athletes tend to train every day, as in my case, golf, and even training every or almost every day, I find time for myself and spend it in doing productive things that I like, like playing basketball, going to cinema, writing and many more things. Being in a city where half of the months of the year is snowy, sometimes we decide to go on an adventure and go skiing. As we go for several days since going to the mountains takes a couple of hours, this happens in weeks or on holidays.
A normal day while I am in college would be to go to class in the morning, classes are either of your degree or also general culture classes, since in the United States there are many mandatory subjects in order to graduate regardless of your field of study. Once you finish the classes, around 1-2 o’clock in the afternoon, I eat and then I will go to practice with my team to the golf course.
Being a golfer implies driving to the golf course as is off-campus. This means losing some time while we go and we go back, but even so, all of us have time for everything afterwards, we just have to know how to organize ourselves. Once we come back from practicing, we usually have dinner together and then it depends on each one what we do after, if you have to study, write a paper, work, etc. In my case, I usually go to the library to do what I have to do, going to the library helps me to focused more and to finish what I have to do and after that I have time to write an article for the newspaper of the university, or doing something with my friends, like going bowling or the cinema, or just staying in the university and going to an event that they have organized- in the American universities they carry out different activities so that the students meet new people and also is a pleasant way to spend your time.
For sure, the best thing of studying abroad is meeting people from different parts of the world and then get to visit them over the holidays. While there is spring break or thanksgiving vacations, you can take advantage and travel around the states, many people –me included- go to Miami on Spring Break in order to get some tanning and some relaxing time; but when Christmas or summer holidays start, what better way there is to spend the holidays than in a different country with your friends?