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Culture change can lead to new experiences

by Alex Arnau

Human beings are terrified of change. Not knowing what’s ahead of them, the uncertainty and lack of control are the driving forces  of this fear. But change is not necessarily a bad thing if we learn to coexist with it.

My name is Alex, I come from a small city near Barcelona, Spain. The truth is, before coming to study abroad to the U.S., I had a great life back home; a loving family, the most amazing friends and stability. When my parents pitched me the idea of studying abroad, I turned them down almost immediately. I was enjoying my life more than ever, and the only thought in my head was to make sure that stayed unchanged. As the weeks passed, I kept thinking to myself: what if I’m being too closed minded? What if by making the decision of staying, I’m closing doors that will never open again?

When the day of the deadline to decide came, I was very conflicted. There were two parts of me pulling from each other and time was running out. Even though I had been thinking about it for weeks, it all came down to the moment when I realized: “What would  Alex 10 years from now have wanted?” I stopped thinking about what I wanted and started to think about what I wanted for my future. If I’m being completely honest, after I submitted my response the day of the deadline, I was pretty scared. I didn’t know if I had made the right choice. I didn’t know if risking the life I had at the moment was going to be worth the life I would have in the future.

I was a 15-year-old that just got to a new boarding school in Massachusetts. I took English in school my whole life, so I was confident in my abilities to socialize and make new friends. I went a week early for the soccer preseason, and during that week I realized it was going to be harder than I thought. My first day, we were stretching on the soccer field before practice. All my new teammates were speaking English so fast, using slurs and lingos I’ve never learned in school. I felt completely lost. After that realization, I decided to put myself out there, to force myself to speak English. So, I let go of my shyness and the fear I had of people laughing at my English. Obviously, my friends made fun of my English, and I was expecting that, but them making fun of me when I would mess up or mispronounce a word, made me focus on fixing my mistakes.

I was afraid that I was not going to fit in, that I had made the wrong choice, and that I would be much happier back home. But that was only for the first month. After the first month, I realized that I was making great friends, living a much more interesting life, and coming to terms with the fact that home is only a plane ride away.

There is no growth without change. Adapt and overcome. If you’re willing to work to achieve the life you think you deserve, you must be willing to take big steps and make big changes in your current life. There is no reward without a little risk, and the greater  the risk, the greater the reward.

Alex Arnau can be reached at alexandre.arnau@spartans.ut.edu

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