My Experience Studying Abroad- Nwandikom Udochukwu
Studying abroad is a trend that has been gaining popularity over the years, especially among Nigerian students who are looking to expand their horizons and gain new experiences. A report by the Institute of International Education says Nigeria is one of the top African countries sending students to study abroad, with over 13,000 students in 2019/2020. Nwandikom Udochukwu, a Nigerian IT specialist, shared her experience studying abroad with us.
She explained that after obtaining her undergraduate degree in Information Technology from a reputable Nigerian university, she knew studying abroad was necessary to advance her education and career.
Udochukwu was determined to pursue her dreams and worked hard in school, earning top grades and participating in extracurricular activities. After graduating with honors, she got a job as a Graduate Assistant at a prestigious university. This provided her with the opportunity to apply to TETFUND for a scholarship to study abroad as a university lecturer.
Eventually, Udochukwu received a partial scholarship from Texas Tech University, her parents’ preferred city. The application process was long and grueling, and she faced several challenges, including preparing for the IELTS exam, obtaining transcripts, writing essays, and applying for scholarships. Despite these obstacles, she persevered and secured the scholarship.
Next came the passport and visa application process, as well as the required medicals, including immunization shots that left one of her hands numb for some time. She went through the customs process and made all the necessary payments. However, the visa application process was delayed, and by the time she had her interview and got the visa, classes had already started. Udochukwu had to send a letter from her school to the embassy, adding to the stress.
The proof of funds was another hurdle, and Udochukwu’s family had to take out a loan to finance her studies. They waited for the funds to mature and then chased up on the documentation process. It was tedious, but Udochukwu had many positive experiences that made it worth it.
Upon arriving in the United States, Udochukwu struggled to adjust to the new environment, food, and culture while attending classes. Her introverted personality made communication difficult, and she found it challenging to find a job and adjust to the pace of life over there.
Even worse, her laptop broke down, forcing her to utilize the minimal funds her father handed her to pay rent and purchase a new one. Eventually, she ran out of money and did poorly in her classes the first semester, and depression set in. She was put on academic probation, and her scholarship was at risk. Despite these challenges, she pushed through and excelled in her classes.
Although language barriers were present, it was easy to get along with foreigners. She made friends with international students from other countries, including India, Pakistan, and Iran. She
had the privilege of living with American and Japanese housemates, both of whom were the nicest people she had ever met. She found America accepting of different cultures, which made adaptation simpler.
Dr. Olufemi Awodele, an expert in international education, asserts that studying abroad can be a life-changing experience for students. However, he points out that students must be adequately prepared for the challenges that may come with studying in a foreign country. “Studying abroad is not just about getting good grades; it is about developing the skills that will enable you to succeed in a globalized world,” says Dr. Awodele.
He advises students to research and plan before they embark on their study abroad journey. It includes researching universities, understanding the application process, and awareness of the financial implications. It’s also important for students to be aware of cultural differences and to be prepared to adapt to a new environment.
According to Nwandikom Udochukwu, studying abroad is not a decision that should be taken lightly. The process can be arduous, with various challenges along the way, but the rewards are numerous.
Studying abroad provides students with the opportunity to immerse themselves in different cultures, develop new skills, and gain valuable work experience that they may not have had access to in their home country.
Udochukwu’s story is a testament to the fact that studying abroad is not without its difficulty. There may be challenges, such as the lengthy application process, financial burdens, navigating the bureaucracy of obtaining a student visa, and the culture shock of moving to a new country. However, Udochukwu’s experience shows that with determination and perseverance, these challenges can be overcomed, and the rewards can be life-changing.
Through her experiences studying abroad, Udochukwu learned to be more independent, adaptable, and open-minded. She developed a greater sense of empathy and understanding for people from different backgrounds and cultures and came to see herself as a global citizen. As she graduates with a degree in software engineering and cybersecurity, she is ready to tackle challenges that may come her way with confidence and determination, knowing that she can overcome them with hard work and perseverance.
Udochukwu’s story is truly an inspiration to other Nigerian students who are considering studying abroad.
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