Study Abroad Essay Contest Winners: Travel has Seven Benefits

Ahmed Allam, Third Place Winner of the International Student category

Before I ultimately decided to complete my education in the United States, I was working and I had got to choose between two critical decisions for my upcoming future: either accepting a job offer in an outstanding company with a higher career level, or taking the opportunity of study abroad. What I did literally was drawing a scale of the potential pros and cons of the two options, and I found out that study abroad had outweighed. Anyhow, in Arabic culture we have an expression says: “Travel has seven benefits” and ironically it is quite applied on my personal experience of study abroad!

I firstly managed to breakdown the psychological barriers to the vague and far country; USA. I was afraid of the long distance, and pictures of skyscrapers were scaring me. I used to imagine that United States is monster while skyscrapers are claws that surround everywhere. Most of my knowledge about the United States was derived from Hollywood movies. Indeed, it’s totally different to build up your convictions of somewhere from a real experience, or as it’s said in the Arabic idiom for such situations: “to glean water from its source”.

Secondly, before coming here, I was worried about difficulties of living a new lifestyle with different tradition, language, and system. And when I arrived, my worries had been actually confirmed! Nevertheless, overcoming these difficulties has improved my personality and added to my experience. I have gotten more matured, independent, and responsible. Now, I can confidently say to myself: “if you could do it here, you could do it anywhere”.

Thirdly, I have discovered that people themselves are similar despite all of linguistic, cultural, and religious differences. Since I spent some time in English schools and I have gotten known students from various countries, as well as Americans, I have could touch the similarities in people behavior, tastes, mentalities and psyches. I have come up with a vision prospects that it could and should be possible to live and interact with each other easily and peacefully.

Fourthly, my patriotism sense has evolved and my view to my homeland has gotten better than it was before. To illustrate that, by looking at the empty half of cup you may get bored of what surrounds you, and get dissatisfied of what you own. Consequently, you strongly want to run away from what you think is frustrating. Afterward, once I left home, I experienced homesickness as I missed my family, friends, house, and the whole lifestyle. On the other hand, I have not experienced the perfectness that I expected in the first world. People here like anywhere else have also their dissatisfactions in some aspects. Then, I have started to see the filled half of cup too.

Fifthly, it couldn’t be believed that I have become more open with people from my country as well! To explain that, I almost had no relations with people who are not come from my city. My country, as a vast land, has different accents and traditions. Therefore, it was not easy for me to make friends or relations from another city. After coming here, I have got known people from different regions and cities of my homeland which was difficult to do so when I was in my country.

Sixthly, I have gained perception of the host country culture. For example, before coming here I did not have a clue about special events of American culture such as Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Columbus Day, and Martin Luther King Day. I also lived the experience of presidential elections. In the last elections, for instance, I could watch live TV programs, and talk with neighbors, teachers, classmates, and taxi drivers about the election. I could directly ask them: Who would you vote to? Why? What are your vision, hope, and concerns? It was an actual knowledge I accomplished where my resources come from the heart of event and from citizens and voters themselves.

Seventhly, my English has gotten better since my speaking and listening skills have improved. I learnt many idioms, expressions, and slangs, and I believe if I did not study abroad, I would not learn them ever.

In conclusion, it has been a valuable experience from its outer scope to discover a different and new world, yet deeply it has been an inspiring journey to discover myself and the genuineness of the world! I finally ask myself what if I could bring what is the best of here and apply it over there.

– Ahmed Allam


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