After graduating high school, I thought I would finally do something that I wanted, not something I was required. However, I had to make choices that would benefit my future job. “I learned how to play piano and traveled around the world simply because I loved those activities” is not a a good statement to put on a job application. I got fine grades, studied a double major, had part-time jobs, joined various extracurricular activities, and completed an internship all by the time I’d completed my fourth semester at SMU. Yet, I still couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I needed a rest and time to think. This was the real reason I applied for the study abroad program. That choice was a huge turning point in my life. I realized life is full of opportunities that can take me anywhere.
The Warm Atmosphere of a Small Town Welcomed Me
I still remember the first day I arrived in Rolla, Missouri. I was the first student to attend MS&T from SMU, so there wasn’t a lot of information about the town or the school. After a two-hour drive in the dark, the airport shuttle dropped me off in front of the dorm. I learnt that the school had no shuttle bus service, so I had to walk twenty minutes back and forth to school and thirty minutes to the nearest grocery store. However, this little town had a very welcoming atmosphere, full of nice people willing to help me. Thanks to their help, I was able to buy necessities I needed at the dorm and prepare for first semester at MS&T. I remember the first few weeks were pretty tough because of loneliness. However, the school provides students with many opportunities to participate in activities. I was surprised because I was able to join a club regardless of my age, major, or experience. Even though I didn’t have any dance experience, I joined the university’s Ballet and Dance Club and became part of its annual performance. More opportunities were offered to me in the community and university gave me time to adapt to the different culture and being away from home for the first time in my life. Also, there were many chances to communicate with people from different backgrounds and cultures. International students from various countries celebrated their holidays and the university even held an event celebrating the school’s students’ diversity. The Celebration of Nations was the biggest cultural event on campus. There was a parade for international students and booths were set up, serving delicious food and showing cultural decorations. Communicating and understanding of cultures and customs changed my perspectives and attitudes toward people.
Struggles Became Opportunities
In addition to enjoying my study at MS&T, I spend 2 years taking a total of 18 courses, mostly in Business and Economics. MS&T is known for its STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education, so mathematical and scientific reasoning influenced the Business and Economics courses. I built up my mathematic and scientific academic skills. Also, I enjoyed an active environment in small-sized classes. Everyone was free to toss out idea, discuss subjects, and encouraged to express their opinions. Professors were very approachable and willing to help me. Some of them were interested in Korea and my point of view on subjects as a Korean. Courses required attending class regularly, studying hard for tests and completing homeworks by the due dates. However it was not difficult to get a good score if I tried hard. I had only sat and listened during class and did memorization for tests, but there I was exposed to a different environment and teaching method. I realized there how learning and studying could be enjoyable. The hardest part about studying in the United States was the financial burden. Luckily, my student visa allowed me to work part-time on campus. During my second year, I started working at the Office of International and Cultural Affairs as a student assistant. I learned basic immigration rules for student visas, took care of student requests, and helped international students face-to-face, through e-mail correspondence, and over the phone. It was not easy to study and work at the same time, but it was meaningful and fun to help international students adapt to life in the United States like I had done a year prior.
Do Not Hesitate and Proceed With Confidence!
Did I find an answer as to what I wanted to with my life? Sadly, no, but I realized life is full of questions instead of answers. Throwing myself into a new environment definitely gave me time to raise questions I need to answer. I was overwhelmed at first. I kept developing and will keep developing until I get to where I want to be and hopefully find answers to my multitude of questions. You may not return with native-like English or find your future from an overseas exchange program, but I highly recommend everyone to participate in an exchange program because you will mature. Your struggles in overseas will guide you towards other opportunities, eventually showing you what you enjoy doing, what you really like, how to enjoy learning new things, and your true self. The change may not be noticeable by other people but you will realize it. Do not hesitate to enter into opportunity!
You may get more information about MS&T on my personal blog at angelina9673.blog.me