ZHANNA LAGUNOVA, a Russian Communications and project management professional with 10+ years of international partnership development experience, and a Fulbright scholarship winner. In this article, she will show us how Studying abroad is a very enriching experience and more than an education.
Studying abroad is very popular today, there are not so many brave and daring enough people to try it. One thinks that he is not good enough and not bright enough, and another one thinks that he knows everything about the world, and there is no need to get uncomfortable to learn that. Home is still better, but I can give you two points for and against this experience:
Cons: the reason that might stop and scare you is that this is a terrifying change, and for some of you, this statement is defining and final, however, they at least.
Pros: one reason why you should do this is the terrifying change; indeed, this is very challenging; this might be a game-changer for your future. I’m not just talking about getting out of your comfort zone; I’m talking about seeing this world from a different perspective, learning who you are, what you want in your life and what you don’t want in your life, becoming determines about all these choices and succeeding in it. It doesn’t matter if this experience shows you more good or bad in you and the world around you because your picture will get bigger anyways, and your awareness will rise.
Studying today is as easy as it may be these days because many people take this path, and you don’t have to shoot yourself into space. They’re willing to share their experience with you even if they didn’t like something. The reasons might be very numerous, a cultural difference, a different language, a different mentality, a different educational system, and why you should go then.
I have a short story to tell you about, I made a presentation for a group of students, and there was one student who actually couldn’t keep it anymore; she said that she was bound to become an economist and all these stories about grants and scholarships are was not for her, because she was just an ordinary girl. I took this turn, and I told her my colleague’s story was originally just an accountant. She studied abroad and learned languages; she’d do different financial accounting courses on an international level. Eventually, she became a very highly qualified specialist in this area, and now she works as a financial director in a very big multinational company. So the girl then told me that my colleague was one in a million, but who told this girl and told you that you are not one in a million?
So I’m here today to tell you that you are one in a million and you are capable of achieving great things. It’s okay to choose a normal life, but it’s not okay if you choose it because somebody told you that you’re not good enough and you’re not worthy enough, and you still just afraid to raise your bar a little bit. Another girl is very hesitant and shaky about her future because of her health issues. Still, we all realize that this life comes as a package deals with all the problems and issues, but the more things you know about this life, the more Arsenal you’d have to do with it.
So who told you and who made you believe guys that you cannot become great at whatever you do. I can tell you that you can be successful in exchange programs for sure if you are hard-working, brave, persistent, and stoic.
- Hard-working: means that you take responsibility for new challenging things, and they’re rewarding not only in terms of knowledge but also skills and see new horizons.
- Brave: maybe some of you share similar memories with me from school when I was just shy and timid, and you know I always knew the right answer, but I was so scared to raise my hand and answer you need to overcome yourself you need to try different cells, and maybe you need to try different places, you can go to scorching deserts with the snakes and scorpions in it, or you can go to icy cold ones and explore the hidden, frozen secrets of our planet, so it’s up to you.
- Persistent: applying to different programs probably you will fail and not only once you will fail your tests or fill in papers in the wrong way, so you need to try you again to try more options you need to try harder, and this will improve your knowledge and skills probably it will also raise your resistance to bureaucracy and fill in zillion forms.
- Stoic: when life is hard on you, you need to stay cool, accept what’s coming and act very rationally. I assure you that these qualities can give you many keys to this life in general, not only studying abroad.
After four years of working in business and three years of working in an academic sphere, I applied for an exchange program. I was 29 at that point, and this information is for those who think their education stops when they graduate, they won’t have another chance because life begins. Well, this is not like that. I’ve also read some reflections of people who study abroad at the moment, and almost everyone said that it was a good solution to take an inspirational break after their bachelor’s degree. So they worked, they had some experience, and when it came to deciding about their master’s degree, they had more input on their hands. We sometimes consider that master’s degree is like an immediate sequel to a bachelor’s degree; well, this is not like that. Bachelor’s degree can be sufficient for your future career, and masters can be completely different in a couple of years. it’s also a very usual situation one in a group of master students; there are people of 25 and 40 some of them came with their families from abroad, so it’s a usual situation and it means it’s never too late to learn. I can also reassure you that you don’t have to be rich to do that because there’s a whole selection of scholarships at the moment, and you can start looking for it at the Universities and programs; there are different double degree opportunities exchange programs and similar things but even if you graduated as I did you can still find it it’s also worth mentioning that if you’re doing a sports career or a legal career. You think I’m a lawyer in Russia who cares like I don’t need languages and stuff. I assure you that you want to become a real expert in all these fields at some point in your career, and you will need international education most likely.
When I applied for my master’s degree abroad, it was quite a turn for me because I had to take different tests after the first stage of the competition. They were not only English proficiency tests, but there will also test including math, so I never had any difficulties with the subjects at school you know math or geometry or whatsoever, but this had to be done by a person of humanities ten years after I drew my last symmetric parabola at school. So it was quite a turn for me. It was very challenging, and the whole process took me a year; I had to provide many papers I have to fill in many forms my translations of academic writings medical descriptions of all my defects. It was worth it in the end. In a nutshell, I can tell you that every application would normally include CV or resume motivation letter copies of your diploma reference letters and test scores. It’s very important to build a good relationship with your old faculty professors. They can give you reference letters so it will increase your chances of getting a good letter, which is good not only for studying abroad but also for finding a future job.
So Arizona was my destination to continue my studies, and believe me, besides that being a complete opposite to Siberia, I had many other hills and valleys on my way. It was a different language, different mentality, different morality, and with its norms and behavior. I miss my friends terribly. I miss my family; I miss my favorite cuisine; not everything turns out to be good. So studying abroad will most likely introduce you to new formats of education as well, so probably your lectures will turn into dialogues with professors; you will not just read on your own, but you will discuss it in groups, and you will work on group projects with a multicultural environment. they will provide like a meaningful experience exchange for you; you will also be able to choose different subjects and tailor your path so anyways you can be lucky enough, and some of your teachers will be noble professors like Nobel laureates, or top managers from the field or some outstanding people. I have an example like that from my experience in Arizona. I took an urban dance class. A professor would come from a different state every two weeks and teach us different dancing styles, contemporary house krump. Whatsoever it was very amazing and inspirational because there were two aces in what they did. So I embraced this experience and this is what you have to do, and I embraced this journey of self-discovery and self-improvement; I felt like I was reborn in a different reality with a different set of options, and one important thing about studying abroad is that you really should try to live a life, do something except the books except the writings except the readings there are usually a lot of extracurricular activities offered on campus so you can choose from them.
It was a big spiritual journey. I met many people on my way. Some of them became my dearest friends, so I started wakeboarding when I was there who knew there was enough water in the desert! Anyways I took a senior class I took an urban dance class. I was a part-time media journalist in the University newspaper; my friend from Cambodia also an exchange student; he learned how to swim how to play guitar; my friend from Cameron took a journalistic path, and she was a real journalist for the University newspaper as well. All these people you meet along the way are your sources for growth and inspiration; this communication is the great greatest treasure you can find in this adventure, so it was a big spiritual journey for me as well, and I hope it was not the last one there were downfalls of course. Not everything went so smooth, so there were mind-blowing sand storms and flash floods right after that in the desert, and I met dozens of big cockroaches on boulevards everywhere, and I once saw a Fox on my way from college, which was kind of scary. It was very hard to find everything for my favorite cuisine., it was very hard to shop and travel without a car; we once were stuck on a bus stop near IKEA, with an enormous mattress we had to take home, while a dust storm was about to burst on us with numerous lightning across the whole sky, believe me, it was truly terrifying.but it worth it, all the bad things too because it showed me who I am, who I was, what I wanted to be it also showed me different ways of doing many things, it changes you completely.
If you still have some doubts, so I dare you to ask a couple of questions, what is the worst thing that might happen to you if you think all these things can happen to you right now, anywhere, at any point in time? But if you ask yourself, what is the benefit of trying? Many good things come here is an answer because there are new connections, new people, new opportunities, both abroad. when you return in your home country, the number of your survival skills will increase no doubt, if you want to shape your personality and if you want to fix some misunderstandings in this world if you want to test yourself, please take a chance, and if you think that you don’t have the guts, I assure you you’re good enough and you’re bright enough; you deserve your goals, and everybody reading this article deserves their dreams.
So challenge yourself because this might be a terrifying change.