Finding My True Self While Studying Abroad

Kumiko Ishimizu, an international student from Japan studying at the University of New Mexico shares how studying abroad helped her find her true self.

Kumiko Ishimizu submitted the following article to International Student Voice Magazine: 

People are able to know their true ability when they are in trouble. Studying abroad is a good opportunity for students to learn about themselves. Because overcoming the challenges from the physical and mental experiences in foreign countries become a strength for their next challenge. Sadly, I did not study abroad before I came to U.S, but I wanted to study abroad when I was a high school student. There are some reasons why I did not take advantage of the opportunity to study abroad. Many people, like me, feel fear before making an important decision such as studying abroad because they are scared or do not have enough money.

When people who stand at the crossroads of their life decide to do something to change their life, they have to be brave. When I was in tenth grade, I was not brave enough. I did not have close friends in my class because I was a shy and reticent person. By the time I found a poster recruiting for studying abroad, I was already tired of school because of my loneliness. I was determined to go abroad, I imagined I could get close friends through it, however, I did not sign up. The term abroad was only two weeks, and I thought it was too short to change my life. I also scared to be lonely because of leaving my family. Coumaravelou, Alizi and Mardiana (2017) mentioned that studying abroad encourages students’ personal growth, but it also may create students’ problems such as psychological problems. They also explained that between 83% and 95% of international students become homesick because they are away from their hometown and family. Even more, I was afraid that I would not have a good experience even if I participated in it.

Studying abroad is also very expensive. In HSBC’s 2016 report, universities in the U.S are popular and expensive places with parents who intend to send their children for studying abroad, and they need almost $33,215 for a year (In Bridgestock, 2016). Many students in Japan receive money from their parents for studying, eating, and living. Studying abroad is even more expensive, so it usually depends on whether the family is rich or not. I had understood my parents did not have enough money for university for me. On the other hand, I had known they might pay for short studying abroad for me if I really begged. However, I could not bring myself to ask for it because I had understood how difficult to earn money through my experience working part time. I also thought that short studying abroad is similar to just travelling for pleasure. That negative prejudice might have been behind my decision to stay in Japan.

Although fear can keep us from making the right decision sometimes, we continue to have opportunities to make decisions even as long as we live. I could not go to school abroad because of lack of bravery and money when I was young. On the other hand, I am studying English in the U.S now, so I have been able to overcome the problems. When we decide to accomplish something from the bottom of our hearts, we can overcome the obstacles and achieve our goals. Therefore, we should not give way to fear.



Coumaravelou, S. Alizi, A. & Mardiana, M. (2017, October 1) Research paper: The effects of brief individual cognitive behavioural therapy for depression and homesickness among international students in Malaysia. Pages 108-116

Bridgestock, L. (2016, December 21). How Much Does it Cost to Study in the US?

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