I still remember the very moment the 16-year-old me had just landed in New York City from China with nothing but two 50 lb suitcases: the bustling noise of the busy streets, the different, diverse looks of NYC pedestrians, the bright yet fierce glare of the summer sun…everything felt new, strange, a bit terrifying except for my deep down urge and determination to undertake challenges and explore my education and life in a foreign land. It is a bit easier for me compared to other international students, because my sister has her family in Pittsburgh, and I can talk to her if I encounter some problems. I lived in New York for two years, and then I moved to Pittsburgh last year. The reason why I chose San Francisco as my internship location is that I never been to West Coast of United States. It is an completely new experience for me to encounter the different culture in the US, and it is interesting for me to experience a city from cultural and professional ways.
As my traveling abroad experience, I think a lot of moments in the US are meaningful for me; it’s hard to decide which one is my favorite. I have experienced lots of firsts in my life in the US, and they are not all good experiences. The first time taking New York subway—it was dirty, smelly, and late all the time (if I was late for my class, most of time it’s because of the train). The first time running in Central Park in the early morning was when I felt like I really became a New Yorker (I swear I met the supermodel Karlie Kloss one time – we passed by each other in the Central Park). The first time eating Chinese food in the US – and I have to say New York has so much authentic restaurants from around the world, you will never feel bored in New York City. The first time going to a party, and meeting people I don’t know. The first time volunteering for a film festival – it was a wonderful experience; I met lots of film makers and actors/actresses. The first time moving from a city to another, when I moved from New York to Pittsburgh last year. There are countless meaningful moments during my time in the US.
The quality education, diversity, and innovative technologies motivated me to study and live in the U.S. Many world class universities are located in the U.S., and U.S. universities place great significance on diversity. Here, the classes consist of students of all ages, religions, and countries. The mixed culture here makes it an interesting place for me to study and live. The U.S. is also at the forefront of scientific and creative innovation, and large technology companies, such as Apple, Facebook, and Google, are located here.
There are tons of skills I developed from my experience of studying abroad, such aslanguage proficiency, flexibility, adaptability, perseverance, time management, and so many others! I definitely feel changed from my experience abroad, but in the beginning, it was hard for me to deal solely with school stuff. As time passed, I found some on-campus job, and I gradually learned how to manage my time, as well as balance study, work, and student clubs. There are lots of things I need to do everyday, and it is important to prioritize those things. Moving abroad can be daunting and overwhelming, there is no doubt that relocating to another country is a challenge. However, I worked out how to settle in, acclimate and adjust to my new environment, which strengthened my ability to adapt. I believe this experience enabled me to adapt to any other country. Studying abroad also strengthened my independence, resourcefulness, and problem-solving skills. There’s tons of things or problems I have to deal with them by myself. Thanks to the experience of studying abroad, I became more independent, confident, and unique.
My current attitudes and beliefs toward travel is that travel for me is to take a small step away (or many steps) from our comfort zone, and stepping away from our comfort zone is where the magic happens. It’s where I discover sides to myself I didn’t even know existed. And travel enables me to experience new thing (both man made and natural). I will keep traveling and opens my minds to different ways of doing things. In doing so, it provides the opportunity to re-examine our own beliefs and habits.