I don’t think I’ve shared enough about my college experiences on the blog, and that is about to change. If you don’t know, I’m Oyinlola, a Nigerian student currently pursuing a college (university) degree at Temple University, in the United States. In my next couple of posts, I’ll be sharing both my positive and negative experiences as an international student, and how to make the most your college years.
So, sit back, read and enjoy;
I was very excited to leave home for the first time in 2014. Excited to explore life and have fun without my parents restriction in a new country. America to me, held endless possibilities. I was caught up in the fantasy of studying abroad that I don’t think I ever thought about what the downside of leaving home would be. I didn’t stop to think of how hard missing home would be or how much growing up I would have to do quickly. It’s been three years since leaving home, and figuring things out on my own. In this post, I’m only sharing the positive experiences, we’ll talk about the negatives in the next post.
Studying Abroad made me define my identity. In Nigeria, I never stopped to think about my ethnicity. The fact that I was Nigerian, African or foreign to some people never crossed my mind. The only differences I noticed were tribal and class differences. As far as I knew, everyone, everything was familiar, and there was nothing to define. I made this statement in class recently, “There is no identity where there is no difference”. You only have to explain yourself when there is something unusual about you, like if you’re in a different country, being foreign is unusual. For example, I have become accustomed to answering the question of where I’m from every time I speak because my Nigerian accent is different. This might be either positive or negative depending on the individual, but it is positive for me. I get to share something about my country almost always, and I love it. I like how describing where I’m from is an easy conversation starter, and often gets people to share a bit about themselves with me too. Besides, I chose to come to a diverse school where I’m constantly meeting people from all across the globe, and learning a thing or two about various countries. It’s great and will definitely be the best thing about my college experience.
Related post: The Africa they don’t show you
Before coming to the U.S, I didn’t know how much colonialism shaped the world, and how deep racism ran (story for another day), but now I do. Part of this eye-opener might be because of the classes I’m taking and conversations I’m having, or it might be because I’m old enough to understand things deeply now. Personally, I don’t think that I would have cared much about history like racism as I do now, if I was in my comfort zone at home. Learning about Colonialism and slave trade from another perspective, and seeing its effects in America especially, is enlightening.
I also have more appreciation for home because I miss it. I mentioned above that missing home was the last thing on my mind when I left home. Well, this wasn’t the case after a couple of months alone, and I’m sure this is the reality of most international students. You miss the food, culture, people, and familiarity that you had back home, and you realize how much you took for granted. Most times, you are very excited to eat traditional dishes, and you appreciate home more. I know I do whenever I visit for holiday.
In addition to these, who would have thought that college would be the place God would meet me in a special way? I thought I was good with God coming to America, but I had no idea I was about to encounter him in a mind boggling way. If I studied in Nigeria, I probably would have developed my faith, but I wonder if I would have been pressed to search for the theology and reason surrounding God and His existence, since almost no one questions God’s existence there.
While studying abroad has been a beneficial and lovable experience for me, I know this isn’t the case for everyone. There are times when you want to quit and go back home. Because of this, there’ll be a post next week on the harsh realities of studying abroad, and maybe some tips on dealing with them.
Until then, I look forward to reading your comments, and letting me know how your study abroad experiences have been if you’re currently studying or have studied abroad. If you haven’t, please leave a comment on what you think about my experiences. If you love this post, don’t forget to like, share, subscribe to the blog and tell someone about it!