To be honest, being abroad alone is very strange.
You were waving to your friends and family, and the next second, you are in a different country. (Flying is the worst; I don』t even want to think about it.) They don』t speak your language, and you probably don』t speak theirs very well. You see different people, things you』ve never seen, and it』s highly possible you』ll be stared at because you are a foreigner. It does not feel good.
I felt terrible when I first arrived in my new home away from home, even though the people were so nice. The food was so different, everything was so distinct, and I was afraid, or in other words, in a panic. You want somebody you know to be with you, to support you, but there isn』t anyone. You are alone.
People are afraid to be alone; we are social creatures who want to be surrounded by people. However, you are born an individual, and you will die an individual. Throughout your life, you have friends, family, and lovers, all who will eventually leave your life in some way. It』s so interesting that you can be surrounded by people in a big city but still feel lonely.
That』s how I feel in high school here in NAME CITY. All my classmates have known each other since they were born. They are Catholics; they speak their own English, and they love cheese so deeply (along with all kinds of bread and peanut butter). At some point, every international student will feel lonely. No matter how many friends they have (Chinese or foreigners) or how long they stay on honor roll, they might not feel like they totally fit in. Jokes can be hard to understand, and the language barrier can make communication difficult. One day I started to think, is this really what I wanted? It turns out, I don』t know. There is only one way to get rid of these thoughts: just try to forget.
Two months ago, I read a short story called 「Just Try to Forget」 by Nathaniel Benchley. It』s about a nervous boy named Larry who jumped the gun in a swimming competition and lost the match. The whole team lost because of him. What could he do about it? Like the title says, just try to forget. There are problems that we can』t figure out, and sometimes there』s nothing you can do about it. I put my time into study. I dive into the world of English. I do homework, write papers, give presentations, manage group work, and, of course, try my best to make some new friends. It is very hard. It is not that easy for others to become my friends, because I tend to be shy. Sometimes it』s not so bad to be alone, because you have plenty of time for self-reflection. But you have to learn how to balance social life with alone time. Make some time to make friends, and stay busy. This way, life is easier.
I also noticed that when you live alone it can be hard to manage yourself. When I was in China, my mom was the person who told me to 「clean this!」 and 「do that!」 Now, I』m in the U.S., a teenager. Can you imagine my room? Sometimes it gets really messy, or I forget to brush my teeth, and there is no one to remind me. This thought is pretty bittersweet. I』m both excited about no one reminding me to do my chores and saddened by it. How sentimental!
Environment really affects a lot. I had poor English reading and writing skills, and now I』m able to read The Fault In Our Stars by John Green in English, and write this article. My English teacher loves plays. We spent a month reading A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Dickens used all these ancient English vocabulary and expressions, and it was very difficult. But after reading the play, I felt that I had somehow evolved. Being bilingual, I』m more sensitive to the differences between English and Chinese. For example, the phrase 「from heart」 and 「by heart」 have totally different meanings. In Chinese, they all mean one thing: do it sincerely. But in English, only one means do it sincerely, the other means do it by memory. These are things I would never know if I didn』t go to a high school in a different country.
Now, my loneliness has gone away a little bit.
環境對人的影響真的很大。以前我的英語讀寫能力很差，現在我可以不費力得讀約翰格林的《星星之錯》，還有寫本篇文章了。我的英語老師喜歡戲劇，我們花了一個月的時間讀查爾斯狄更斯的《小氣財神》。狄更斯使用了大量古老的英語辭彙和表達，讀起來非常困難。但讀完劇本後，我覺得自己進步很大，對英漢兩種語言的差異更敏感。例如，「from heart」和「by heart」這兩個詞有完全不同的含義，在中文裡，它們都是「發自內心」的意思，但在英語中，一個是發自內心的意思，另一個牢記的意思。如果我不去國外讀高中，我永遠也不會知道這些事情。
About Shirley Chen
I am 15. I went abroad in 2017, right afterI graduate from my middle school. My favorite thing to do is to have a cup of hot tea, and get a book to read by the window on a snowy winter afternoon.
For humans, child is a star in the vast sky. For me and our family, the child is the whole milky way. Child is the arrow, we parents are the bows. How full the bow is, how far the arrow can shoot and how fast it can fly. Even if it is a meteor, it should be the most shiny one.
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