In this blog post, I would like to do a practical exercise with you that may help all of you readers visualize how your challenges and dreams compare. It is true that all of us international students (yes, me too!) have huge challenges to overcome in the US. Some of these challenges are:
Learning a new language: this is probably the most obvious one, right? When we move to a different country, the first thing we get in contact with is the language of that country (either written or spoken), and it can be difficult to live in a country which you don’t speak the language of.
Adapting to a new culture: another great challenge is to adapt to new customs, new rules, and situations. When I first started driving in the US, I thought it was so weird that in some instances I was able to turn right even though the light was red. Now, of course, after years of living here that is second nature to me. I’ve adapted, but I understand how hard it is in the beginning.
These are just some of the challenges we face as immigrants. However, I do believe that if you compare those challenges with the goals and dreams you have, you will probably see that they aren’t as big as you think they are. Our dreams are, or at least should be bigger than our challenges!
So, the exercise I talked about in the beginning of the text is this: I want you to post in the comments the biggestchallenge you have right now and then your dream right next to it, for instance:
"Challenge: Pass my TOEFL Exam -> Dream: Get my Master’s Degree in 2 years."
See? Passing the TOEFL exam is just the first step, a small part compared to having a master’s degree from an American university in a short time. Think about it: if you already speak English, getting your TOEFL test completed is doable. You’ll need to study a lot? Yes. You’ll need to prepare for it? Sure. But, in this test, you will write one text, listen to a couple of conversations and interpret some questions. That doesn’t compare to what you’ll see in college, for example. In college you’ll probably write one or more texts a month. You’ll have to read many pages a term.
Therefore, comparing your challenges to your dreams could give you motivation to keep going, understanding that taking a step by step approach (no pun intended!) is the way to go. It’s by dreaming big that we are able to get more challenging things done.
I hope you realize that you should always dream big, because those big dreams will lead you to accomplish more and more challenges.