The idea of studying abroad tickled my excitement. After graduating from an international secondary school in Jakarta, I was given the option of pursuing my further education in Singapore or in the US.
It has been my dream since I was little to study in the US. Thus, given these options my impulse decided it all. At that point, my dream seemed to come true and without any further considerations, I followed my heart. Receiving my bachelor degree two years ahead from people in general was all I knew.
When my English tutor heard of my plan, she asked me, “Are you aware of the decision you are making?”. I lightly said yes to her. She advised me that in studying abroad, it is not homesick that will be in my way but fear. Clueless of what she was talking about, I ignored it because it seemed to be about time for me to step out of my comfort zone.
The Indonesian saying “Penyesalan tidak datang dari awal” is indeed true. If time could be rewound, I would find out all about college. Having no single idea how college worked, coming to college was a great shock for me.
My first quarter was overwhelming and disastrous. I just knew that websites like ratemyprofessors.com do exist and different professors actually have different difficulty levels, not to mention the struggle in coping with American style and structure of writing. During that time, English felt like a whole new subject for me, despite the fact that I was raised and educated in English. Through the eighth week, my grade was still an F in the class. The teacher was reluctant to help me because according to him, this class was not up to my English level. The teacher suggested me to drop the class every time I visited his office hours. Seeing how a teacher was positive that passing the class was impossible, as a student, I was down beyond words.
My father heard what I was going through. He told me not to give up and that he has a lot of faith in me. He reminded me of times I fell and how I successfully picked myself up, and told me that if I could do it then, why not now. He made a point. I did my best, opening all books in the library, researching on the structures expected and how it should look like. With those will, effort and prayers, I passed the class. The teacher was dumbfounded. Nevertheless, he congratulated me and even told me frankly that he thought I would never make it through his class.
As I scrutinize my father’s sentence “If you could do it then, why not now”, there is a word that explains why. Fear. Thousands of miles away from home, all alone. Not to mention, this was my very first time being this miserable and demoralized and during that time I had not fully adapted with living away from home. The pressure of studying abroad also crept in me: an extreme fear of disappointing my parents. But as time goes by, I was able to fight this fear and even turn it into a motivation. The fear of disappointing my parents has helped me in surviving through my sleepless nights and my ups and downs in college.
I may appear to be making a big fuss out of this minor failure but this has taught me significant life lessons: when there is a will, there is a way. Life is never a smooth-sailing journey. I believe when one door is closed, another is opened. Some people may not have gone through all the pains and sweats but I am grateful I have been through them. This develops me into a more optimistic, hard-working and determined person. After all, life is not necessarily about the grades I achieved. It is how well I overcome my problems, turn it into a stepping stone and turn myself into a better individual each day.
Also, my parents often remind me of this Indonesian saying “Semakin tinggi pohon menjulang, semakin besar angin menerpa”. This proverb reminds me that as I take the next steps in life, more challenges will lie ahead, and if I fail to pick myself up when I fall, it seems very likely that I will not succeed in my future endeavors.
Reminiscing of my first quarter, I wonder: what if I had followed my teacher’s suggestion to drop the class? I would have wasted a quarter and, most importantly, would not have realized the power of faith. My father often reminded me to have faith in myself and it has helped me in going through all my problems. Later in life, as I attempt to achieve my goals, many people will swish through my ears, some encourage me to continue my journey, some will tell me to stop right there. But my heart makes the best decision. Wherever possibility is seen, I will go for it. With faith in myself, I believe nothing will bring me down.
In life, challenges and failures are there to nurture individuals. Without them, people will not realize their strengths and weaknesses. Although it is not in my best interest to fail, I always keep this in mind: life is full of challenges. If I fail to pick myself up and do better next time, I will not survive future obstacles because only the toughest will succeed in this competitive world. In leading or in working, without the courage and mentality to take the risk of failing, one will not be able make a difference in the society. Therefore, turning these challenges and failures into a base for self-introspection will be more fruitful than mourning over them. And most importantly, optimism, courage and faith are all elements to success.