Growing up is hard, and nothing can make you grow up faster than leaving home, studying in another country, and living on your own. Fay Chomphunik, a MUIDS journalism student, interviewed three students about their study abroad experiences. The challenges they faced were not easy to overcome, but the lessons they learned were invaluable.
The world is rapidly evolving. A number of skills are becoming more important than ever such as language and leadership skills. One way to learn these skills is to study abroad.
Studying abroad does have considerable benefits for students. Many students dream of going abroad because of some positive experiences they have heard from friends. But is studying abroad so beautiful in reality?
Three exchange students were interviewed about this topic. First, Gain Nakamol has just arrived back in Thailand after she went to study in Finland for a year. The second student is Zadia Kornrat who is currently an exchange student in America, and the third student is Fern Picharee who is living and studying in Italy right now. All three students learned important lessons while studying abroad.
The first lesson was to choose a country that suits you. “I’m an introverted person like Finnish people,” Gain said. ”I thought that we could get along.”
Another lesson all three students learned was to consider cultural differences between your home country and the country you will study in. Some major differences that can occur are the third language problem, lifestyle, and the school environment.
“Language was my first problem,” Fern confessed. “I have to study every subject in Italian and only a few classmates of mine can speak English, and the teachers are always speaking in the class, so it was hard for me to understand the lessons.”
“I also got culture shock quite often because of the differences between Thai culture and Italian culture. For example, Italians hug and kiss a lot between friends. Italian people are also very straightforward which is very different from Thai people.”
Many exchange students will likely face these problems. How students handle these problems depends on their personality.
“Everything was so new and exciting at first,” Gain said. ”but when things got harder, when I started to get used to the place, I was bored and I thought that maybe if I were at home, things would be better.”
Gain’s solution was to become strong and independent. “Finnish people are shy. They do not hang around with anyone except their best friends or their girlfriends and boyfriends. I stayed alone and usually did things alone which helped me to become stronger.”
Zadia had a different solution for the same problem: “The first time I came to America I had a problem making friends because American teenagers are so different from Thai teenagers. They don’t get excited about exchange students because America has a lot of people from other countries. I didn’t know what to do at first, but I finally realized I needed to have friends to help me with studying and other things. I had to start talking with people first. Now, I have a lot of friends.”
All three of these students learned valuable lessons that cannot be learned in regular classrooms. “I got to know many different kinds of people,” Gain said. “I tried to get along with them even if I did not like them. Also, I was not used to managing my money, but I learned how when I studied abroad.”
Zadia also learned important lessons: “I know how to live by myself now. My attitude has changed.”
Fern was no different: “I got a nice new family and many friends who always helped me with language and schoolwork. When I am here, I have to manage my new routine and habits by myself. I learned to solve problems and learned about new cultures that are completely different from Thai culture. Everything I learned from this year will be useful for me. I’ve grown up a step.”