Saturday, September 05, 2009

New Experience for Class of 2013

Since middle of August, there has been a flurry of good byes by those who have recently admitted into their dream universities in US, and they were on board towards their new chapter of life in US. For some of them, it was their first flight of their life. For some of them, it was their first flight to US. For some of them, it was their first visit to their Campus. And for some of them, it was their second, third etc visit to the Campus.

Irrespective of the situation they are in, it must be a great experience for all of them, to start this new phase of their life, to spend 4 years in a university in US. 

To all of you, I wish you all the best! I wish to write this much earlier, but my schedule does not permit me to do so.

Looking back to my journey back in August 2001. That's 8 years ago.

I still remembered taking my maiden flight on the 20th August 2001 from KLIA, and yes, that was my first time taking an aeroplane, and from there, I went to Los Angeles, and then  flew to Pittsburgh, before the final flight to lovely Ithaca. I reached Ithaca on the morning of 21st August 2001. Around 10am or so. The first building that I went into at Cornell was the Biotech building, where I registered for my PREPARE International Students Orientation.

This post is not meant to let me go back in history and recapturing my experience, but I hope (as what Mark Lee suggested), to share some of the points, which may be revelant to those of you who have recently flown over or would be flying over soon.

If you feel lonely there, that's perfectly normal. If you feel homesick, that's perfectly normal. If you find yourself not being able to fully engaged with the locals or other international students, that's perfectly normal. If you find yourself sleeping in the day time, while staying awake at night, that's perfectly normal (Jet lag is what people call it). If you find yourself overwhelmed by the happenings, that's also perfectly normal. If you find that you have shaken hands with too many people in a day, yes, that's perfectly normal.

If you find people smiling at you, even though you don't know who they are, that's what they do there. Maybe you should return a smile, strike a conversation with them. If you find that you are still together with your own clique, try to step away a bit, to go out and mingle with others. If you find that you are struggling with your first couple of weeks of classes, do relax. Just do your best. Go in without too high expectation, and just strive for your best. After all, it is a different level of competition, and you are competing at global level now. So, don't fret.

If you find that you are taking too heavy workload, you might want to see whether you can cope with it. And if really necessary, there is always the option of dropping the class. Have you picked up the courage to join some co-curricular activities, especially those type of activities that you dream yourself participating in. Do go for in. 4 years will sweep by immediately, so don't give up the chance to join from year 1. It is never too early.

If you find that your neighbours are too noisy, that's normal, since you yourself might be noisy sometimes too. It is part and parcel of living in hostel. How about doing laundry? Going to dining hall to eat? Packing food for your lunch break or even supper? How about those many performances along the corridor or on the grass. The festivity of the students. 

How about the hustle and bustle of the city, if where you go locates in a big city. How about the apple trees and plantation, if you really go to rural areas like Cornell? How about the huge libraries that you might get lost inside. How about the classrooms, auditoriums, labs etc? 

Looking back, it takes time to build up the transition. If you find that you have trouble understanding the English spoken by Americans or others, that's perfectly fine. They might not understand you perfectly too. If you are struggling with your English, don't fret. I was in your shoe and I know it was very tough. Don't give up. Keep on learning and keep on trying. Never shy away from speaking and sharing with others.

Take the time to mingle, chit chat and learn from others. The more diverse they are, the better. Knowing different culture, knowing people of different ethnic, religion, geographic location etc. Open your heart, open your mind and open your door.

This is the exciting moment and don't waste it. You have the chance to make it a great experience. Go for it!

For those of you who are aiming to go to US next year or later on, do strive for your best. I wish you all the best too. If you need resources on how to prepare for your applications, do go to .

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