A BIRD lays her eggs in a nest, and once hatched and with the passage of time, the fledglings must be on their own, cast into the wild away from home.
Most humans share the same reality. At some point in our lives, we experience true individual independence, away from home and our parents. For some, that moment comes earlier in the form of boarding schools. Yet even that may pale in comparison to the responsibility that falls upon oneself when one pursues higher education, assuming one picks an institution far away from home.
There are a lot of things to get used to when immersing oneself in the higher education environment.
Although it is easier to stay connected from thousands of kilometres away in the digital age, there still exists a vacuum which one’s parents used to fill. Even memories of being scolded for doing a house chore wrongly can find their way into your daydreams when you are missing home. However, this absence has a rather large implication looming over many. For the first time, parents are not nearby to ask for guidance.
This realisation may also lead to another—for the first time in your life, you are the adult in the room.
And you have to figure things out for yourself quickly to survive.
Not everything you will learn at an institution of higher education is found in a classroom.
Sometimes, you also learn in the dorm room. You learn to cook because a pile of potato chips and a can of soda do not constitute a meal. But there is nothing quite like a parent coming down on you, telling you to eat healthy and whipping up a hearty meal for you. So, you need to start thinking like a parent.
Those who are overseas will find they miss more than just their parents even though they are excited at being away from them for possibly the first time in their lives.
But far from home, there is another group of people who is absent from their lives—their friends. Some have made strong bonds with people they grew up with over the years in their hometowns.
Some may find it hard to make new friends. Join a club or pick up a new hobby to join a community with the same interest. You will make friends in class but a shared interest outside of it may lead to bonds like those at home.
Those studying abroad need to find common ground among international students. Be active in seeking them out and gain friends with different perspectives and experiences.
Finally, not least of what you will be missing while abroad is home itself. You are attuned to the place you grew up in. You are familiar with it. You know the people, you know the streets, you know the air and the best place to get a burger.
You will miss home, you will miss your nest when you walk along unfamiliar streets every day. Even though you spend four years pursuing higher education in another country, there is always something new.
This is where things get exciting, this is another area in which you will learn beyond what is taught in class.
You will experience new people, new streets, new sights and sounds. Higher education is a learning process inside and outside of class. It prepares us to be adults. It shows us that there is a big world out here and makes us hungry for more.
Everyone learns to experience new things and misses the old.
Emillio Daniel is an adventurous English and Creative Writing graduate from The University of Iowa in the United States. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org