It's a rainy Monday night and I'm sitting on my bed, thinking about a lot of things. This is the week of Thanksgiving, I'll be having holidays from Wednesday and classes end the week after next. Time sure flies when you're having fun. Been traveling a lot this month, a new place every weekend. First the Bahamas, then St Augustine, which is the oldest city in the US, then last weekend to Key West, the most southern point of continental US, and this weekend I will be going to Orlando.
Funny thing is, a year ago, I would never have thought that a year into the future, I'll be here, doing what I'm doing. I saw myself as a third year student in UM, going through the same old routine of studying. Who would have thought that I would come all the way to the US? I came here all by myself, but made a lot of really great friends on the way.
So this will officially be my first Thanksgiving ever. And in the spirit of true Thanksgiving, this year I'm thankful for many things.
1. The obstacles that I had to face: they have made me stronger.
In spite of everything, I am truly grateful for the lessons that those obstacles have taught me. Because in truth, I know that the finer moments in life are those that happen in the midst of great unhappiness and pain. It is only in these moments, propelled by discomfort that you learn to step out from your ruts and start becoming stronger. Trials make you stronger and they give you determination. Life throws you challenges once in awhile-they are not supposed to paralyze you, they're supposed to make you discover who you really are. Thank you, for proving me wrong. I AM strong enough.
2. My family.
Always supportive, always encouraging. I would never have been who I am today without their constant support and love. Come to think of it, I would also never have pushed myself to try harder without having two smart elder brothers who did well in everything. I had some pretty big shoes to fill and I knew it, and that made me work even harder. Growing up with that kind of mentality puts you under a lot of pressure, and it makes you believe that being average just isn't good enough. Somehow I'm glad that I grew up in that environment, because some of their ambitiousness and drive caught on to me. Call me "kiasu" all you want, but I do believe that some level of kiasuness is necessary to work towards your goal.
Family- at times they irritate you so much with their demands and noise, but at the end of the day, you know that they are the ones that stood by your side the whole time. There's something so great about waking up and knowing that in another part of the world, your family is praying for you to be safe and to have a great day. I miss them so much !
New friends, old friends. Good friends who've seen me at my worst and yet have chosen to remain a part of my life. The ones that appear mysteriously out of nowhere to give me a hug when I'm feeling down. The friends that have shared with me a part of their life and want to be a part of mine. The old friends that pick me up when I fall down and those that are brutally honest.
4. The opportunity to study abroad.
The days here have been more than amazing, and every day I open the doors to something new and learn something different about life and people. I am truly thankful for the chance to be here, to have gotten the UGRAD scholarship so my one year here is fully sponsored. Knowing that you got here on your own accord has a different feeling than knowing you got here on your parent's money. I would never have enjoyed my trip here as much knowing that my parents have to work hard for each cent I spend abroad. Studying here has also given me a whole new perspective on life. Through talking to people from all over the world, I have come to realize that there are a lot of things that I don't know, and there is a much bigger world from the one I grew up in. I am grateful for the opportunity to be in this country, because despite everything, it IS one of the free-est countries in the world. There is nothing quite like the experience of seeing things from multiple points of view and being able to make decisions by yourself instead of being told what to do.
Sunset at Mallory Square, Key West , Florida.
The last two trips within Florida has made me realize what a privilege it is to study here. I don't think I could have been happier in any other state. First of all, the weather is wonderful. Sunny and breezy, perfect for traveling. It suits me because I love nature and I like looking at beautiful views. When faced with sights like this, it's hard for you NOT to pause and enjoy life.
5. I'm thankful that although I'm loving my time in America, I still feel that strong sense of belonging to Malaysia. America shows you a lot of things, the good ones and the bad. I think in seeing the bad side of America, I realize how growing up in Malaysia is an advantage, and it makes me cling on to my values and beliefs even stronger.There really is no place quite like home. More importantly, there is no FOOD quite like home.
6. I'm thankful to God- for coming through when I needed Him to and for showing me that prayers does work wonders. Sometimes, when God closes a door, He not only opens a window but knocks the whole wall down so you stare with amazement at the plans He has for you. All you need is a little faith.
It's been a crazy year, but I have so much to be thankful for.
Happy Thanksgiving, people!
By: Nasha Lee (UGRAD 2011-2012)