eight months ago, I packed my bags again and took a 13hrs flight to immerse myself in a new experience on the other side of the world… again. My study placement in Singapore has been one of the greatest experiences I have ever had. Right now, I find it really difficult to explain only with words how this experience has changed me. I believe I have changed in so many levels, I do not really know where to start.
Singapore is one of the smallest countries in Asia, however, it is well developed and they have a great focus on creating a bilingual society, with English being their primary language. But, a big majority speaks mandarin Chinese, which was also one of the reasons why I decided to go to Singapore.
I think going to Singapore reminded me of how I felt when I decided to study my bachelors abroad, in the UK. It has been one of the best decisions of my life, but also one of the toughest. Studying abroad is not easy but it teaches you lessons of a lifetime.
In my case, I think I have always felt good being by myself. But the type of loneliness you feel when being away from your family and friends, it is different. Somehow that ambiance where you felt so confident, is not there anymore and the people you would normally ask for help is not there either. Just like they are not there for special holidays or when you get ill and so on
As if that wasn’t enough, prepare yourself to accommodate the time difference into your agenda so you are finally able to talk to friends and family. This was such a difficult factor for me, I had eight hours’ difference with my friends and family in the UK and another twelve hours with my family in Venezuela.
Singapore was different from my first study abroad experience in the UK, somehow I felt more confident, I was prepared for the cultural shock and I was ready for that homesick feeling to hit me. Going abroad again allowed me to apply some of my previous knowledge in the matter.
“too foreign for home, to foreign for here, never enough for both”
There is a very important stage of cultural shock that not many people talks about. It is the ‘coming back home’ stage, and it is not any easier than leaving. I have always read about cultural shock, about feeling lonely and all of those difficult moments when you live abroad, but the truth is, I experienced all those lows but, the benefits of being abroad pulled me through those hard moments. The anxiety of saying goodbye to my new friends was overcome by the feeling of finally being reunited with my family and old friends.
Once I came home, the first few weeks were great, I was happy to see everyone and feeling part of their lives again. However, I felt different, I have developed new expectations because I have got to know myself better. Also, I care about different things that I did when I left. Being away from everyone you care about, does put things into perspective and you find yourself assessing what and who is truly important in your life. What makes all of this very difficult is not knowing how to express with words how much you have changed. Essentially I perceive things and the people around me quite differently now, even though I still look the same and have the same personality, maybe slightly changed.