Different world travel

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Having spent my primary and secondary education in Kuwait, the Newark Delaware scholarship was a great opportunity. I was optimistic about the possibility of a new life in a foreign country. Coming from a remote area with a population of less than three million and an Arabic native tongue, I did not expect the difficulties that awaited me in Newark Delaware. However, I was eager to make my dreams come true and succeed in my academic pursuits. The process of adjustment as an international student was characterized by various shifts in my behavior, beliefs, values as well as cultural identity as a result of meeting with other students and teachers from a different culture. At first, I thought that my fellow students who were Americans weren’t open as well as welcoming to me. Therefore, in some instances, I experienced prejudice, discrimination, and racism. These situations impacted me and my experience of living amidst the Newark DE culture as well as a community. I was interacting with the existing environment from a typical newcomer perspective.

Apparently, I was aware that my tenure at Newark DE was often temporary, therefore, during my first few weeks, I did not put up a fight in trying to interact with my fellow students and familiarize myself with their culture. I only expressed enthusiasm in activities that would facilitate successful attainment of my education. However, even in the most fundamental classes that I was required to participate, I still experienced significant difficulties. In some cases, I had struggles to participate orally in various classroom activities due to my confidence as well as a preference f communication styles. Furthermore, sometimes I had difficulties in using the available facilities within the school setting as well as outside it. Making friends and developing good relations with my lectures also proved to be a daunting task. All these challenges were mainly prompted by language barriers and cultural differences, which I was unaccustomed to. I had to study in a language that is not my mother tongue. Therefore, my low proficiency in spoken English generated stress.

My struggles to adjust to the Newark DE culture while maintaining a strong sense of my Kuwaiti cultural identity often proved to be futile. Over time, I realized that my attitude also played an important role in increasing my adjustment to stress. I experienced cognitive fatigue disorientation and difficulty in concentrating. Moreover, I was suffering from some psychological disorders including feelings of being isolated, homesickness, loss, sadness, and frustration.

The turning point came when my frustration coupled with helplessness led to depression. It is then I realized that I was taking the wrong path in adjusting to the new environment. After weeks of retreating into my personal cage, I resolved to embrace diversity and acknowledge the culture of Newark DE and that of its people. In that moment I realized that factors such as independence, autonomy, competition as well as privacy were highly valued in the Newark culture. By emulating the Newark culture, I found out that diverse groups contain various abilities as well as skills and knowledge that may be useful for any team work. Through developing connections and using complementary skills as well as knowledge about the culture, I have adapted to understand my fellow students and teachers better and as a result, completing the tasks with a bigger success.

Through emulating diversity, I have experienced immense progress not only in the education setting but also in recreation and leisure activities. By interacting with other students, I realized that groups performing decision-making tasks make higher quality decisions if they are more diverse. Therefore, I concentrated on seeing the brighter side of the new culture rather than criticizing its flaws. While engaging in diverse groups, I have realized that I was as familiar as others in the context and nature of the decision to be reached. Even though, I kept asking seemingly naïve questions, these queries enabled me to clarify the context of the findings to all group members. My efforts to socialize and interact with others had its challenges, in many cases, there were communication problems, lack of cohesiveness, as well as resistance to change. However, my new perspective prepared me to face such problems.

Embracing the American culture as well as diversity has proved to work well for me. The tolerant attitude that I have acquired has changed my academic and social life. I have been able to attract talented friends while improving my academic results. Further, engaging in group activities without the fear of being rejected by others has made me creative and decisions-oriented ultimately increasing my flexibility. As a young person from Kuwaiti, I had only one mission, to study hard and return to my native country with outstanding academic credentials. However, I am now comfortable in the new culture after perfectly adjusting and making good friends in this community. I have mastered the art of thinking and acting from a global perspective and not just from ethnic culture. Consequently, the most important thing is to work hard and never overlook the possibility to enhance one’s personal development. There are always people, who are ready to help you once you do some efforts by yourself. Studying abroad has acted as an eye opener, I hope to use the skills I have gained in Newark Delaware to benefit not only myself but the whole world.

December 15, 2021

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