|Global UGRAD Malaysia||
Life wouldn’t be the same if I wasn’t selected to participate in the UGRAD Program and what is more if I did not apply at the first place? It was definitely a life changing experience that you have no idea if you have never been abroad. Touching down on August 14th, without knowing anyone in the states, I was nervous yet excited. Walking towards the luggage collection counter, I bumped into a family where a handsome white man was holding a big card with my name written on it. From that second I knew, that I was not alone anymore because my host family was there for me! I was placed in Illinois State University, doing Actuarial Science for two semesters. It was actually something I did back in my local institution, but I chose some particular classes that were not offered in Malaysia.
I have always wanted to try something that I would never have the chance to do in Malaysia. Speaking of that, I am grateful that I had a chance to experience target-shooting with real guns and traveling on a jet with my host dad! Guess what, I would have been sentenced to jail with just a bullet in Malaysia. Also, we do not have tons of festivals like Americans do, it was so happening and I had the chance to go to St. Patrick’s day, Pumpkin Festival, Apple & Pork Festival, Halloween and Thanksgiving celebration. I was surprised to know that Americans actually celebrate these kind of festivals every year.
As in school, I took part in Gamma Iota Sigma club and also Actuarial Club. I really appreciate as they provide students with the opportunities to get in touch with people from different industries. I thought it was really practical that the school encourage students to work with people outside before they actually step out into the society. Besides, in order to maintain my body weight, I registered for badminton class and I went to gym to workout with my Brazilian roommate quite often. I was one of the ambassadors for International student’s association and that was where I started to get to know friends from all over the world, sounds fantastic, isn’t it? I helped out during the homecoming event, Gala dinner and International Fair ISU.
Of course, culture shock is something inevitable when we go abroad. I learned the Western cultures and values when I was there. Things were so much different in the aspects of social, politics and economy. Americans hold the mindset of open and receptive while Malaysians maintain the conservative mindset. Therefore, the bountiful return I got from this experience is to learn about the mixture value of Western and Eastern values.
In the middle of the second semester in the states, three friends and I represent Malaysia to participate in the Re-entry workshop took place in Washington, D.C., organized by World Learning. It was an enchanting one as I got to know brilliant Ugraders from other countries and had fun together. Moreover, we got to meet our World Learning facilitators face to face instead of watching each other on skype before the workshop. It was well-organized that we were mingled regardless of where we came from. During the Cultural night, four of us put on our traditional costumes and presented a Malay song, named “Rasa Sayang”.
Not to forget about my great job in the states, I have contributed a little to the community. Teaching high school students as a volunteer was fun, especially when we shared about know cognition about numbers, my favorite! Alex and Dixie were the quick learners out of so many students. Festival of Trees was fun, I had my first time put up Christmas trees and decorated them with ornaments! Besides, I also hang around with kids during the festival. During the second semester, I assisted a professor in Actuarial department in my school to do some researches and some marking schemes.
Last but not the least, traveling was one of the best part out of the nine months abroad. I had the opportunity to visit some big cities in the states, St. Paul, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, New York, Milwaukee, Washington D.C., Springfield, St. Louis, Bloomington, New Jersey, Philadelphia, etc. Those memories were actually framed as the most beautiful traveling pictures in my mind ever.
After all, I would like to express a copious of gratitude to MACEE, World Learning, Global UGRAD and my friends. Without them, my trip to America would not be that perfect. They indeed shaped me to be a better individual as I could now see my future better and clearer. Thank you, you guys are just AWESOME!
By: CHEW SHI EE (UGRAD 2010-2011)