Studying abroad proves to be enlightening experience

Abdullah Rashed, Reporter

Studying abroad in the United States of America has been one of the most significant experiences of my life. I have learned a new language of a new culture, and I have met many people who come from different backgrounds.

Before I came to the U.S., I had many negative thoughts that made me look at everything from one angle. By negative thoughts, I mean all my ideas were aimless. At that time, I felt as if my life had little purpose. It was routine. I had become careless about improving my knowledge.

When I was in high school in Kuwait, I would ask my friends and English teachers why we had to study the language of people who don’t care for or learn Arabic.  They would tell me that we learn the English language because it is the most spoken language in the world. Again, my question was why?

After I graduated from high school in June 2012, I decided to apply for a scholarship at the Higher Education Ministry in Kuwait.  I filled out all the documents needed to get a scholarship: the I-20 form, U.S. visa and an acceptance letter from the English Language Institute.

After that, I arrived in Syracuse to study the English language at the ELI at Syracuse University. On July 13th, 2013, I began taking classes, and I met students who came from overseas, including places like China and South Korea. The United States of America has a high standard of education, which attracts students, and people here always encourage youths and adults to work hard. This is what I need right now to advance my life, and I believe I have found it.

A few months later, I went to Bird Library at Syracuse University, and saw two English speakers who were studying and practicing how to pronounce and write words in Arabic. After witnessing that situation, I started to change my mind and connect the dots in order to be a positive person. In the last year and a half my life has changed. I paid more attention to the atmosphere of where I live.

I have never forgotten my instructors at the ELI who taught me how to be patient and work hard. I am also grateful to my uncle Abdulilah Al-Dubai, who has clarified many ideas, beliefs, values, etc. of the American culture for me and has taught me how to be more respectful to people here. He taught me that you have to be positive and always learn great things from other people and to change the negative to positive.

“Be optimistic,” he said. Due to this support system, I was able to pass four levels at the ELI with no absences, and also passed the TOFEL IBT test, which tests the ability to read, write, speak, and listen to the English language. This was a huge achievement I accomplished in a short period of time. All of these achievements have brought me here to SUNY Buffalo State. Not only am I able to understand students and the faculty, but I also have conversations with English speakers and even make jokes.

“Just imagine how beautiful it would be if one could talk to almost anyone on this planet!” my friend Arun said. He suggested that when I’m done with the English language I should learn a new language and keep the boat sailing. We always have to be optimistic and work hard, and we have to avoid comparing ourselves to other people. Step out of the box and see the world.

In the future, I plan to take Spanish courses in order to learn the language and the culture. I will benefit people in Kuwait, my friends, family, and children when I get married. It is important to have confidence in ourselves and use what we learn in the right way so that we can assist and improve our community and country.

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