Written by Audrey
Will living somewhere else make me happier?
The idea of studying abroad can be exciting yet scary, especially living in a place where the language, culture, environment are completely foreign. Despite those circumstances, some still yearn for study abroad — including myself. I grew up in Jakarta, Indonesia, and wanting to study abroad has always been my dream. Many people might think that the sole reason why people want to study abroad is that the grass is always greener on the other side, but I disagree. The reason for my dream is not a mere fantasy of a “better place”, but rather understanding the challenges that come with study abroad and the willingness to take on those challenges.
I did not know what I wanted to do in life nor did I have any particular ambition — but things took quite a turn when I turned 12. My family and I left Jakarta and moved to Singapore due to my father’s business duties. I was not fond of the idea nor hated it. On my way to the airport, one of my friends sent me a message: “You’re so lucky!” Back then, I did not know what she meant. A month went by, and I enrolled in a public middle school. However, there was one major problem: my English knowledge. I could barely speak nor understand the language, yet all the courses were taught in English. Comprehending the classes and making friends was exhausting, both mentally and physically. I wanted to give up after the first day of school. I wanted to go home. I wanted to go back to my comfort zone and home country, Indonesia.
That was when I got reminded of the message my friend sent me. I finally understood what she meant that day. The luxury of studying abroad does not simply come for everyone, and that I should not be taking it for granted. I knew that if I gave in to my laziness, I would regret it in the future. From that moment, I pushed myself to strike up conversations with my classmates using all the basic English words I could think of. Luckily, they understood! Slowly but surely, I could easily engage in their conversations, and we finally became close friends. As time went by, understanding the teachers and materials was not so difficult either. Had I given up that day, I would not have been able to meet my friends who I cherished most and learn valuable lessons. Living in Singapore has taught me how to be independent and made me see a completely different world, one that I might not see if I had stayed in Indonesia. The difference in languages and cultures opened my eyes and guided me to become a more open-minded individual.
Two years later, I went back to Indonesia. After having a chance to taste what studying abroad felt like, I craved for more. However, the reality is harsh. Getting a bachelor’s degree outside of Indonesia will inevitably cost a hefty amount of money. The expenses of studying abroad do not only include administrative costs, but also accommodation, transport, health insurance fees, and many more. Especially since my parents’ income is not stable, I must look for scholarships. Visiting education fairs and seminars started to become a monthly routine for the sake of gathering as much information as I could. Years went by, and I was already in my second year of high school. Most of my peers have already started preparing for their applications, and the pressure was getting to me. Despite the countless visits to education fairs and seminars, I still did not know which university to apply to, ironically. The universities that I heard of either do not provide scholarships or majors that interested me.
One day, I decided to drop by my school counselor’s office. I explained how I did not want to burden my parents financially but was also unwilling to give up my dream of studying abroad. Upon hearing my concerns, one of the teachers recommended TIU to me. She pointed out that TIU provides scholarships and that there was also a brand new major called Digital Business and Innovations. My eyes gleamed with hope and excitement, and it felt like I was getting closer to my dream. From there, my teacher introduced me to one of my high school alumni who was a first-year student at TIU. She explained how TIU is filled with diverse individuals, and how she got to collaborate as well as gain connections with people from all over the world. Hearing her personal experiences was helpful to picture life as a TIU student and make my decision. However, those are not the only reasons why I opted for TIU.
Before my application to TIU, my family and I went on a short trip to Japan in 2019. Since then, Japan has left an unforgettable memory in my mind. One vivid memory is when I first landed at Narita Airport, and the immigration officer smiled and said, “Selamat Datang” which means ‘welcome’ in the Indonesian language. It was a small but thoughtful gesture that made me feel truly welcomed during my visit. Although we only stayed for 5 nights, there were a lot of things that I noticed from the Japanese people: they are generous in giving out sweet gestures, they strictly abide by the rules and regulations, and they are respectful to others. Throughout my study at TIU, I hope to learn and adopt these positive traits of Japanese society.
Life is short, and that is why I want to make the best out of it. Especially from this COVID-19 pandemic, I realized how fast time flies as a year went by just like that. Unfortunately, as traveling amid this pandemic is dangerous, I had to spend my first semester at TIU and take my classes online. Although my dream has to be postponed, I am still excited about what TIU and Japan have in store for me! Remember that living somewhere else may or may not make you happier, and it is certainly not for everyone. There might be countless reasons why one would desire to study abroad, but it is also important to note that there will be sacrifices to make. At the end of the day, never compare yourself to others and go after your dream at your own pace.