I started studying International Business Management in September 2016 without knowing what to really expect about the overall atmosphere of the college, the content of the courses, the teachers, and the other students that would be in my group. I was completely clueless, but I decided from the first day to remain optimistic. Moving to Belgium, I had to start my life from 0, not knowing the city or anyone. I have never been the social type, but since I got here, having forced myself into a new environment, a new country where I didn’t know one soul, it pushed me to break out of my personal bubble and seek out new people, people from all around the world, an opportunity which I wouldn’t have had if I had stayed in Peru. I have built so many friendships and contacts over the past few months, friends who have distracted me from missing home. As the days went by and I grew accustomed to my own routine, both for college and for my daily life, I knew I made the right choice in moving from Peru to Belgium. It was something I needed to do and experience for myself.
With each lecture I attended and each new friendship I made, I grew more confident in myself to keep moving forward. Of course I had to deal with homesickness a lot during the first few months, missing my family and friends was a serious setback for me the first semester, but it was something I had to deal on my own in order to learn from it and grow. I also felt relieved when I noticed that I wasn’t the only one who felt lost during the first semester. The first few weeks I noticed everyone was nervous and shy, but everyone was also open to meeting new people and learning new things, which gave me more confidence too, knowing that I wasn’t exactly alone. I also got distracted by the novelty of just being in a new country, exploring my new home, going out with each new friend I made along the way. I felt happy but overwhelmed by all the different activities I had to do day to day.
9 months later, I am settled down, and I can keep track and sight of my main goal to achieve here in Belgium: which is to get my degree. 2 semesters have flown by and now I am close to taking the final exams of the academic year. May is ending and I can’t help but notice how much I have changed since September, both academically and as a person.
Academically speaking, I didn’t do as well as I had hoped in the first semester. I had too many distractions and I didn’t take things as seriously as I should back in September, when I naively thought college would be just like high school. Of course, I now know what to expect from the exams and how to better prepare for them to do my best.
I’ve taken my failures from the first semester and dedicated myself to improving for the second one, starting with my study methods, which have improved considerably. The courses from the second semester are harder than the ones from the first semester, but I have made several improvements that I think will make a difference in my results this time. There are a few things I still need to work on: First, how to always prioritize my student life over my personal life. There have been moments where I have said yes to my friends to go out when I knew I should have been doing an assignment or studying. I find it hard to say no to people and to other distractions and this is one of my biggest weaknesses. Another weakness of mine is that I skipped some lectures that I don’t particularly enjoy that much. From the first semester to the second I have done my best to attend them, even though some teachers really make it hard for me to avoid skipping. But I must say I have surprised myself on this, since I have been going to the great majority of all of my classes. Some courses I have loved, and some I have hated and suffered with, but in the end I know they are all necessary to succeed in my future business life. I think failing was an eye opener for me to realize that I need to put more effort into my studies.
As a person, I have always been very independent, but studying in a new country miles and miles away from home has made me find myself and become much more mature, and more of who I already am. It has shown me that I have the capability to adapt quickly to new surroundings, and it has made me discover new sides to me that I didn’t know I had. With freedom comes responsibility as well, I have had to learn a lot of new things by myself, without the help I’ve always had from my parents back home: things like getting my first bank card, signing a rental contract, learning how to make a decent meal, etc. The overall outcome of this entire experience has been that I have matured and grown as a person, I have learned responsibility, and I have become an adult. Studying in a different country is definitely a life changing experience and, as much ups and downs as I have had this past year, as much as excited and scared I am for the next academic year, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
As I mentioned, my weaknesses include not being able to say no to people and distractions, failing to prioritize my studies over my personal life, and procrastinating. I am already doing my best to correct these negative things about me, for example most of the times I feel like procrastinating too much I decide to go to the library instead of staying in my room, since I know I am more motivating when people around me are studying as well in complete silence. I know that if I stay in my room I will probably not maximize my studying. For the second semester I have also turned down a lot of distractions and have already started taken things seriously, but for the next year I will remember to do my summaries for each course earlier, so that I can be more relaxed and not rushing when studying before finals.
For the next academic year, I also want to achieve improving my grades and aiming higher than I am now, I also want to start looking for internship opportunities and try out new and better study methods. I should watch out for my bad habit of procrastinating and saying yes when I should have said no to distractions. I want to try out having a perfect balance between studies and leisure.