My study away experience has started three weeks ago and I’ve never felt this confused in my life like I’ve been feeling lately. Although I’ve been to the U.S four times before, I’ve never visited this part of the country, The Midwest.
I often ask myself …
Where am I? What have I done? Why did I do this? What now?
Before my arrival, I had different expectations of the city and the people I’ll be surrounded with, let alone the weather. And everyday that passes by, I’m still learning how to adjust these expectations and make the best out of it.
I come from Dubai, a modern and diverse city with a luxurious lifestyle that we often take for granted because we forget that it’s an added value. But on the other side of the world, it’s the exact opposite. Springfield is pretty much flat to me. It’s a simple city with everything just around the corner. Surprisingly, many people knew what Dubai is and a lot of its attractions like Palm Jumeirah but many others thought it was located in India.
Being an Egyptian girl who was raised in Saudi Arabia and currently lives in Dubai, I feel like wherever I go I’m breaking the stereotypes.
According to them, I have all the answers!
I’ve never felt like a freshman at AUS, even when I was one 3 years ago. I’ve known my way around campus, I knew a lot of students, and I wasn’t seen alone on the first day of classes back home. But it took me around 3 days here to get to know my way around and how the system works. Luckily, I don’t think I’ve experienced that much of a change academically compared to other international students.
Springfield, Missouri is a quiet city with not a lot of places to explore which is why the campus is full of life and lots activities to do. My day starts at 8 AM and pretty much ends at 5 or 6 which means I get to go to bed at 9 or 10 pm (no more dark circles under my eyes).
There are a few Arabs on campus (Saudis mainly) but the majority of students are American which kinda makes international students feel outnumbered in classes. People are generally nice and welcoming but they’d never initiate a conversation. My favorite thing is that I’m spending time alone without having people stare at me as if I’m a loner or a freak! (Yes, people do that in the Arab world or come up to you and ask you, why are you sitting alone? Do you wanna join us? No, I’m not depressed and I’m totally fine staying here, thank you…)
Over the next few months, and when the weather gets warmer, I plan on visiting nearby states to get to know this side of the country better.
Getting out of my comfort zone wasn’t the easiest thing for me and I pretty much have to remind myself daily that this WILL be the best experience of my life. I’m still learning how to adjust my expectations and how to avoid any negative thoughts like feeling homesick. And I know that by the end of this semester, I’d be a master in controlling my thoughts and making the best out of anything that comes my way. & this, to me, is why people call it the best experience of your life!