Mohd Syahmi Yem
Instructor: Beth Seilberger
Halfway Around the World; and What I Got?
“Why would you travel thousands of miles away from home for a first degree? We already have hundreds of university here in Malaysia.” That is the common question people will ask me whenever I tell them I’m going pursue my first degree here in the United States, and back then, I would have a lot of trouble answering their inquiries. As I got on the plane to leave Malaysia, my beloved country for the Land of Freedom, the United States of America, I was still not so sure if my decision is the right one. It’s not my intention to travel for a pleasant sightseeing or to obtain cliché recognition from the local of my elders. Studying in the United States is a physically and mentally challenging experience, yet a worthwhile one, as I develop the skill of survival and be independent.
The first effect when I got here, is that I learnt to pay much more attention in class, as the fast-pacing teaching and learning process here requires me to work independently, no more spoon feeding. The first week of my Chemistry lectures, one chapter is covered in only one lecture session; which is only 50 minutes. The professor is going way too fast for me. I got to go home and study the chapter for a few hours before I got to understand it holistically. It was really tiring when you instructor crammed all the topics for your quiz in only a few days. I’ve started to regret my decision to study here. My pleasure time seems to be much more back in my country. However, to my surprise, I managed to follow the rhythm of the teaching and learning process here time by time. Now, after three months of struggling to keep up with the current study plan, I have been able to manage my time more effectively.
One other thing that I will surely get here, but not in my home country, is the whole new experience. The first time I was here, I was extremely excited. It’s a whole new world for me, new environment, new study atmosphere, new cultures and new faces. For the last 20 years of my life, I have studied and learnt how to live independently, but that was back in Malaysia. I never ever been outside of Malaysia, even the neighboring countries, and now here I am, at the other side of the world. In terms of study, back in Malaysia, we studied very hard and hardly have time for ourselves. We Asians are very rigid, very particular and thoughtful on our education and studies. But now in the States, I was amazed to see how those guys managed to have fun and at the same time, perform well in their studies. I was held spell bounded by the embellishment of their life. So now, as far as I can get here in the Land of Freedom, I have the advantage of studying hard like and Asian, and at the same time, have fun and party like an American!
I got everything in Malaysia. I good great house, a loving family, fun relatives, a loyal lover, a cute pet, even a good academic institution! So why would I give up all that just to get here in the United States? The country of the Star - Spangled Banner has taught me the lesson of life, which is to survive. I got nobody here; no parents, no relatives, no teacher, just friends. They won’t be able to guide me if I went astray. I learn to communicate with officials, do my own electric and gas billing, pay for my own telephone lines, and most importantly, manage my own financial standing. I even have my own Mastercard (which means I have to responsible for it, too)! As me with my friends, we have to help each other in any crucial times, as to survive. As the American says it, “You scratch my back, and I scratch yours. We will both be happy.”
I was only 20. I got another three year in the United States. This means that 13.04 percent of my life will be spent here. There is only two outcomes and lessons that I will probably brought back to my home country; either I will be good and contributed to my country, or I will be a spoiled, hedonism-stricken brat. Let’s hope that I will have the courage, the spirit and the faith to continue my survival here. So the answer to those who ask me these questions in the first line, I got here so I can have worthwhile experiences that no one else can get, adapt myself to a new high quality study environment and lastly, develop my skills of survival and be independent. There’s no regret in leaving my family for a better education, not only for a degree and a job, but an education for life.