Blogger: Everest Law
“I cannot rest from travel: I will drink life to the lees” – A. Tennyson in Ulysses
It feels strange to remain at home, while all my Oxy friends are already engaging themselves in a typical (i.e. busy) Oxy semester. No matter – within three days I will be setting off to St. Petersburg, Russia for my Study Abroad program. The excitement and anxiety of going to a new place hasn't struck me yet, and somehow I feel more secure than three years ago when I first arrived at Oxy. These few years of life in the US have indeed prepared me better – at least mentally – for facing unknowns and abrupt changes in life.
It is interesting to see how Oxy tries to prepare students extensively for their short stay outside the US. The school’s International Programs Office held an orientation on campus, during which we discussed our goals, how to react to cultural differences, safety issues of our specific program sites … among other things. In contrast, none of my Hong Kong friends received the same kind of preparation before leaving for college in Britain, America, Canada, Australia and the Netherlands. Is it that we underestimated the stress and issues that might arise, or is it that we are actually so used to the idea of studying abroad? Speaking for myself, I never thought in detail about life in the US before I left home. My goal of studying physics has become an imperative, and other concerns – if they ever surfaced – were put aside for the sake of getting one step closer to my dream. The idea of being abroad is also made familiar to me by relatives who emigrated, and never quite talked about the hardships they had endured.
And so I shoved my sorry-ass onto the plane, and came to this land of milk, honey, marijuana and guns. One has to do what is necessary, hmm?
But no matter the difficulties that arise, it is a privilege to travel and study abroad. It is an even greater privilege to be studying at a prestigious liberal arts college, AND THEN spring-boarding to another country on another continent. I will keep this in mind, so that I make full use of my time in Russia and take nothing for granted.