Getting Ready To Embrace A New Country: Studying Abroad In Syracuse University

Getting Ready To Embrace A New Country: Studying Abroad In Syracuse University

After 20 exhausting hours of flying, I finally landed in Syracuse. For most of you it’s a brand new city, but for international students like me, we are entering a brand new country. Excitement, fear and uncertainty dominated. Compared to our native peers, we always worry more: Is my pronunciation correct? Can I understand what professors say? Can I make friends?…Stop worrying. I had the same questions as you. But believe me, summer boot camp will prepare you at the very first day, and with the help of Newhouse’s friendly professors and lovely students, you will be okay then. You are always more than welcome to Newhouse—our family in a foreign country!

The following are my tips for international students:

  • Get out of your comfort zone

You start to grow up when stepping out of your comfort zone. It’s not always easy and creates pain, but it will become a part of your life, which can benefit you in the long run. Fear, uncertainty and indolence are the barriers that prevent you from stepping outside.  But as long as you overcome them, you can explore the beauty of the world that you’ve never met. For me, getting out of my comfort zone means living in a different country, studying with a different language and making friends with people of different races, all of which sound challenging. But luckily, my curiosity wins the battle with my fear. I made my first move. The first time I asked a question in class, I stammered and my hands sweated. I felt like I was an idiot. But the professor encouraged me silently and answered my question patiently. Then I became more confident and worried less later. I realized that it’s not a big problem if you make grammar mistakes and pronounce wrongly sometimes—even native speakers misspeak. So long as you speak English, ask questions and communicate with others, you will make great progress. If you stay in your comfort zone and only make friends from your country, you’ll never grow. Though now I cannot say that I am definitely better than those who have never stepped out of their comfort zones, I am one hundred percent sure that my horizons are expanded, my knowledge and my experience is enriched and I became stronger, braver and more outgoing.

  • Accept the difference and adapt to it quickly

Before I went there, I never expect there would be somewhere in a city that cannot be reached by public transportation. And even though the public transportation seems to exist, it doesn’t in fact—I need to wait for the buses to Destiny Mall and one hour or more for other supermarkets. Sounds crazy and desperate for those who cannot drive, yes that’s me! In my home country, public transportation is so cheap and convenient that most of us use it almost every day. When I told my American friend that one family may have one car or they don’t have cars, she was shocked. This is only an example, and I have experienced more than that. I am writing this not just to point out that my motherland is better than America or not. I am trying to find the difference. Things become different based on the situation of countries and their unique cultures. It’s normal, and we need to adapt to it as quick as possible. And thanks to the summer boot camp, the six weeks allowed me to explore Syracuse and adapt to the lifestyle in Syracuse. Both the Newhouse orientation and international student orientation helped me to get a general understanding about every aspect of living and studying. The summer courses were not so intensive and made it possible for me to get used to America’s teaching style. The activities organized by Newhouse created opportunities for us to socialize. Though six weeks are not too long, I can pretend to be an “old student” rather than a “freshman”. And I believe you can also adapt yourself as quick as me!

  • People are all the same

Leave your stereotypes behind! Not all Asians are shy. Not all Indians know about computers. Not all Syracuse locals can ski! From a micro perspective, people are different because THEY ARE DIFFERENT in person, but not because of their races. And from a macro perspective, people are all the same—all of us are human beings. Everyone wants to be loved and no one wants to be left behind. We talk about food, movies, celebrities, weather, classes, professors and so on. No matter where we are from, what language we speak, what life experience we have had before, the topics which interest us are similar. Language barriers seem to disappear sometimes. What I’ve discovered is that we can relate to everyone in the world if we look past the superficial things that separate us. Talk to others. Learn from others. Open your mind and hug the world.

Baiyu Gao

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