Appreciation

By Mithaq Alshammari 

English Language Program

Fall 2022

Do you appreciate things in your life? I am writing this while it is raining outside, and thinking about everything that has happened in my life. How did I get here? Why did I get here? When did I get here? And lots of questions – some might matter and some might not. 

I am in the 20th year of my life studying abroad in the United States far away from my home, my family, and my friends. Is it hard? Yeah sometimes. Is it a great experience? I would say loudly “Of course!” My way of thinking has changed. I became more responsible and mature, and the most important thing is that I understand myself better after coming here. I am more aware of my desires and my interests compared to when I was back home. For that reason, I appreciate the opportunity to study abroad.  

In addition, I started to think about my future more deeply and manage my plans for a better future. In April 2022, I opened my first business in something that I am passionate about, which is clothing design, with zero experience in marketing and accounting, but I did it at a young age. I design abayas and scarves which are the Saudi women’s traditional clothes. I started to promote my products on the social media platform Instagram, and there were some difficulties attracting customers. However, with the support and the help that I received from my family and friends, I overcame those difficulties. After that experience, my appreciation for the good, supportive, loving people in my life grew.  

 I remember something my dad said to me when I was 14: “Feel the value of the things around you, appreciate the value of the smallest things in your life.” He always gives me advice about life, but this was different. I never forget these words. I started to appreciate the smallest to the biggest things in my life: appreciating the picturesque nature and fresh air, appreciating a cup of coffee early in the morning, appreciating the presence of someone who understands you, appreciating work and studying, appreciating chocolate, appreciating good and loving people, appreciating sleep with a calm mind, appreciating security and safety, appreciating love, appreciating a supportive family, appreciating music and songs. 

Why is appreciation important? It makes us feel safe and peaceful, which is what frees us to do our best work. Personally, when I started appreciating everything in my life, the little details as well as the big important aspects, I became a peaceful person, calm, positive, and comfortable. I noticed that I don’t get bothered or upset by small things as usual. However, appreciating the things you have in your life does not mean that you do not aspire to be more and better. On the contrary, appreciation gives you the motivation to aim for the best. And if you don’t appreciate the things that you have, you will focus negatively on the things that you don’t have and this will make you as a person who doesn’t appreciate any thing in their life, less productive, and compare your life to other people’s life, which is unhealthy. 

I wish all people can take a pause and start searching for things in their life that are worth appreciation. It might be difficult for some to feel that appreciation because they might be taking things for granted. Especially things that repeat and are part of a routine. However, don’t let repetition take away the observation, don’t forget how wonderful your friend is, how delicious your coffee is, or how comfortable you are in most of your things, and do not allow the coldness to prevent you from appreciating the good things around you under the pretext that they are ordinary. Ordinary things are often great otherwise you will not continue to live with it. Give yourself inner peace, and satisfaction that there is nothing more beautiful than the feeling of peace.  

Overcoming Struggles and Hardships of Studying English

By Rion Tomomasa

English Language Program

Fall 2022

International Education Symposium, November 2022

Almost 3 months has already passed since I came to the US. It is only 3 months in my life, but I have experienced a lot. I have studied English since I was a junior high school student because Japanese students must study English in Japanese education. However, this education is not enough for me to speak English fluently because students mainly study English grammar and writing. There are no opportunities to talk to native English speakers. I want to be a flight attendant in the future, so I decided to study English at university when I was a high school student. However, my university education is not an ideal environment to focus on studying English. Gradually, I became lazy to study English, so I lost my goal without my noticing. When I became a 2nd-year student, I noticed that I could not keep going like these days to achieve my goal. Therefore, I decided to come to Chatham University to improve my English. 

After I came here, I felt like I was going to falter many times because of my English skills and my personality. When I met my roommate for the first time, she asked me, “Do you have a nail file?” I could not understand what she said because I did not know the word “nail file.” I was confused and I could not answer her immediately. And then she said, “It’s ok.” I was shocked that I could not communicate fluently with an English speaker. I fully realized my lack of English skills at that time. After that day, I was confused when listening to English, speaking English, and writing English again and again. I cried every night because I did not like myself then. I could barely keep up with my classes. However, I gradually get used to listening to English and started to feel better. Nowadays, there are some words that I cannot understand, but I can make sense of almost all of what my teacher means. I try to achieve my goal to make sense of what is said in English in normal conversations.  

Nevertheless, I still have time when I feel depressed. When that happens, I remember the phrase from my mom, “Learning to push a little harder is a powerful thing.” My mom gave me these words after I came to the US because I wanted encouraging words to overcome the times when I am worried about my English skills. My mother went to Canada for about one year to study English like me when she was a university student. She could not speak English at first, but she was able to speak English fluently at the end of studying abroad. Now, she is my English teacher at home. I am proud of my mom and want to be like her. I got confidence from her many times when I felt depressed. My family encourages me every time, so I want to show my family how I have grown by studying abroad when I go back to Japan. This is one of the goals that I try to do my best here. 

One day, I took notes for this essay. I usually write notes before start writing an essay to sort my head out. I put the note on my desk just like I always do, and then I went out to take my class. After I went back to my room, I found a note from my roommate. While reading the note, I was moved to tears in spite of myself. In the note, there are many cheerful words to me: “Know that you have your roommate on your side.” I noticed that I’m not alone and I have such a wonderful roommate. I struggle to build relationships with American friends because I could not gather the courage to talk to them even my roommate. If I have any worries or questions and I want to ask my roommate, I could not do so due to my hesitation. I’m not brave enough, but now I just do it without thinking too much thanks to my roommate.  

Leaving home is hard. Moving across the world is even harder. However, I have many memories here. I have made friends from different countries, known the difficulties of studying a foreign language, learned the different ways of thinking in each country, and experienced many precious memories that I can never forget. I cannot write down everything in this essay, but  I can say with confidence that I’m doing my best now! Finally, I’d like to share my favorite words “Don’t forget, beautiful sunset needs cloudy skies.” It means there are good times and bad times in life or after you experience hardship, good things will happen to you. If I want to cope with and overcome something, I have to make an effort. Everyone can do everything if they have courage. 

Why Pittsburgh?

By Andrea Carolina Rodriguez Cortes

English Language Program

Fall 2022

Since I was a child, I’ve always wanted to live abroad. I’ve always wanted to learn to speak different languages. I’ve always wanted to know about different cultures. My first experience living abroad was at the age of 10 when my parents decided to move from Cali, Colombia, the city that I am from, to Volcan, Panama. This little town is known for its peaceful atmosphere, and many foreigners, mostly from the United States and Germany, live there. I remember going to public places and trying to communicate with kids at my age in English. I didn’t speak that much, but I was able to understand a lot because my mom used to talk to me in English. I felt extremely happy when I started making friends and speaking in another language. Unfortunately, we decided to move back to Cali for various reasons, one of which was that we missed our family and friends and weren’t used to living in a small town after spending our entire lives in big cities.

Years later, when I graduated from high school, I decided to choose a career related to languages. My lifelong ambition has been to learn five languages, and I speak three already (English, Spanish, and French). I decided to pursue a career in foreign languages at the University of Santiago de Cali. While I was studying at the university, I worked as an English teacher in a school and as a French teacher in another institute. As my graduation date approached, I  was resolved that once I completed my study, I would look an opportunity to live abroad. I didn’t want to live in Colombia anymore; I wanted to know the world; I wanted to know other cultures; I wanted to improve my English; I wanted to improve my French, and I wanted to have that cultural experience living abroad. I decided to look for options and I found an au pair program in the US. After talking to my parents, I applied to the au pair program, which is how I ended up living here.

When I started looking for families in the au pair program, I found a family that was in Pittsburgh. To be completely honest, I’d never heard of Pittsburgh before as it’s not as popular as New York, Miami, San Francisco, or Chicago. When I decided to come here, people asked me, “Why Pittsburgh?” I looked up the city and discovered that it had many good universities and a Latino population that wasn’t very large, so I could immerse myself in the language, which was perfect. Yes!!  Pittsburgh was the city that I was looking for. Finally, I graduated from the university in December 2019 and moved to the United States in February 2020.  I was living a dream. I had previously visited the United States on vacation in New York, but I didn’t practice English that much. I mostly spoke Spanish, so coming to a city where I could practice English was ideal. The first two weeks were great; everything was going well for me; everything was beautiful—the buildings, the city, speaking English every single day, going shopping—I was experiencing my dream cultural immersion. Unfortunately, two weeks after the lockdown began, I spent several months experiencing the opposite. After the lockdown was over, I began to travel, visiting New York, Los Angeles, Malibu, Santa Monica, and Myrtle Beach from June to December 2020. I was happy again.

When I finished my program as an au pair in February 2022, I decided that I wanted to study in the US, so I applied for a student visa at Chatham, and I was accepted into the English Language Program. I’ve learned a lot about grammar, vocabulary, composition, and communication. My goal is to be accepted into a graduate program in international relations, and I believe that was a good choice to apply to the ELP program at Chatham. So far, it has been great living here. I love the city. Still, when I meet a new person and they know that I am from Colombia, they ask me, “Why did you choose Pittsburgh to live in?” I just said that it was one of the best decisions that I have made. Why Pittsburgh? Because I love practicing the language every day. Why Pittsburgh? Because it isn’t that small or big, which makes it perfect. Why Pittsburgh? Because I love having the four seasons here, seeing the bridges, and enjoying its old infrastructure. Why Pittsburgh? Because I love the Steelers, even though I am still learning about football. Why Pittsburgh? Because this city has opened its doors to me, and I feel so comfortable living here. Why Pittsburgh? Because I have gained cultural knowledge living here, and I wouldn’t change it to live somewhere else. Why Pittsburgh? Because it is the first city where I have lived abroad by myself, and I am planning to stay. If I had to pick a city for cultural immersion again, I would pick Pittsburgh again.

A Dreamy Reality

By Andrea Quintero

English Language Program

Fall 2022

Life hasn’t been easy since I arrived in the United States. I came here with my dreams in mind, thinking that everything was going to be a perfect fairytale, but it was also my first time facing the world by myself in a completely different way. The truth is that I had never had to deal with adulthood on my own before coming here. Everything involving adult responsibilities would make me terrified, so I would always dream my way out of everything. Three weeks after my arrival, the pandemic happened. It was hard at first. I didn’t know what to do since I was new here, so having to live with an American host family while being in lockdown under a pandemic instead of living with my own family wouldn’t have been my first choice. I was so terrified that I considered leaving. At the same time, it was exciting, so I stayed. The best part of it all is that never would I have imagined that it was going to be my experience in the United States that would make me become the realistic dreamer that I am now.

Everyone that knows me knows that I’ve always wanted to be in the United States and speak English all day long. In fact, my friends and I would always joke about me being best friends with the Kardashians and being extremely successful in Hollywood, since I’m known for being an acting, music and makeup enthusiast. When I first arrived, I was a different person. I was excited and nervous about my future. (Well, that hasn’t changed much). I used to be more of a dreamer. I used to believe that everything was going to be like a fairytale. Turns out that life isn’t a fairytale, and I found that out the hard way. For a person like me, full of dreams and hopes, it was hard to face reality since no one taught me how to be realistic when I was younger.

I believe that childhood is an important part of what makes you who you are. It is true that you have the choice to change and to decide whether you want to keep making the same choices and mistakes or if you want to turn your life around, but it is hard to completely change if you’ve been raised a certain way. My story hasn’t been easy- nobody’s story is easy- but I can only speak for myself. The reason why I think I’m a dreamer is because in my childhood I needed to escape from my reality. One of the people who protected me from family traumas is my grandma. She encouraged me to think about another world and to use my imagination to ignore the pain of the violence happening just on the other side of the door. Thanks to that, I was able to travel in my imagination and to dream about being happy in a world that was violence free. I would also picture myself as an artist on a stage or in a movie set. That’s where I escaped the most. I don’t blame my mom or dad, and certainly not my siblings. I believe they are all victims of their stories and how they were raised. It’s just a vicious cycle. The priority that my parents gave me while growing up wasn’t much, so I had to learn most things about life for myself. Being here alone has been teaching me all about adulthood that I didn’t know. I truly love my parents; it just feels like I had to raise myself.

At the International Education Symposium 2022

Since I arrived in the US, I found out that adulthood is interesting. One of my favorite parts has been learning to be independent. I’m learning how to take care of myself, pay bills, buy groceries, and all the things that adults do.  It isn’t always fun though. I miss when I didn’t have to worry about anything, but also the challenge is great because it shows me how capable I am of achieving things for and by myself. My perspective of life has changed. I have become more independent, responsible and patient. Now not only am I a dreamer still, but I’m also more realistic and analytical, which may help me to achieve my dreams in the most rational way possible. I can still picture myself following the arts and being successful, but it may be not as magical as I used to believe it would be. Being here and having learnt all that I have, I know that the climb is going to be hard (if it isn’t already) and that I might not make my dreams come true, but one thing I know for sure is that I made the right decision coming to the United States, a country that may allow me to achieve my dreams just by combining them with my reality.

International Education Week 2022 Reflection

International Symposium

Students and community members came together for the International Symposium to explore the theme “Building Mutual Understanding for a Peaceful World”.

Presenters included keynote speaker RaMa, a Sudanese activist and author. RaMa has published two novels and a short story collection to great international critical acclaim. She is currently a writer-in-residence at City of Asylum Pittsburgh.

Students presented speeches and posters on a variety of topics, including religion, marriage, cultural differences, study abroad, and kindness across cultures!

Globally Green: Vira I. Heinz Scholar Presentation

Participants learned about sustainability in Italy and Jordan from  Vira I Heinz Scholarship program scholars Mikaela and Isabel.  Dr. Lehrer discussed sustainable farming and agriculture in Costa Rica, and Dr. Julier provided an overview of the projects and initiatives of CRAFT at Eden Hall campus. CRAFT, or the Center for Regional Agriculture, Food, and Transformation, works to transform the future of food and agriculture in Western Pennsylvania and beyond. Speakers provided information on opportunities to volunteer and impact the sustainability of the local area. Everyone was invited to sample some foods from Italy and Jordan.

International Snacks with ISA/TEAN

Sara Kochuba from Worldstrides shared information on ISA [studiesabroad.com] and TEAN [teanabroad.org] study and intern abroad opportunities during summer and semester long programs. Students sampled tasty snacks from abroad.

International Karaoke

Students of modern languages gathered in the Carriage House for International Karaoke! Students sang to practice their language skills in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, and Spanish!

International Tea

This relaxing event fostered engagement and conversation among Chatham students and community members. Participants joined in for conversation, snacks, games, and tea!

Celebrate International Education Week (IEW) 2022

International Education Week (IEW) at Chatham University begins on Thursday, November 10, 2022.  You don’t want to miss the International Symposium, Thursday, November 10th 3:00 pm-5:00 pm in Mellon Board Room. Please join us, and bring a friend! Support our 5 student speakers, 6 poster presentations, and learn from our keynote speaker, activist, and published writer of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, RaMa who will present Resistance Committees Today for Better Tomorrow. Light refreshments will be available.

More IEW events to check out. . .

We look forward to your participation. Please see myChatham listings at the above links for more information and/or reach out with any questions.

Apply for the Critical Language Scholarship

Applications are due November 15 for this fully funded summer immersive language learning opportunity!

The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program is an immersive summer opportunity for American college and university students to learn languages essential to America’s engagement with the world.

 

The Application for the 2023 CLS Program is now live! Applications are due November 15, 2022 at 8pm Eastern Time. To start an application, visit https://clscholarship.org/apply

The CLS Program provides opportunities for American college and university students to study languages and cultures essential to America’s engagement with the world.

Each summer, American undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities across the country, spend eight to ten weeks learning one of fourteen languages at an intensive study abroad institute. The CLS Program is designed to promote rapid language gains and essential intercultural fluency in regions that are critical to U.S. national security and economic prosperity.

CLS Spark, an initiative of the CLS Program, provides opportunities for American undergraduate college and university students to study Arabic, Chinese and Russian virtually at the beginning level.

Designed to leverage best practices in online language learning, CLS Spark provides students with the opportunity to study critical languages virtually when they may not have access to studying these languages on their campuses.

The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government. It is supported in its implementation by American Councils for International Education.

The Application for the 2023 CLS Program is now live! Applications are due November 15, 2022 at 8pm Eastern Time. To start an application, visit https://clscholarship.org/apply
For information on studying abroad as a Chatham student, and more information on study abroad vouchers, programs, and scholarships please contact internationalaffairs@chatham.edu.

 

Visit the Study Abroad Fair

All are invited to stop by Chatham’s Study Abroad Fair on Wednesday, September 21st from 11 am to 2 pm in the Mellon Board Room on the Shadyside campus. It’s a big world. Don’t miss out, study or intern abroad! Drop by Mellon Board Room to learn more about Chatham programs, provider programs, Summer 2023 Chatham Field Experiences, study abroad vouchers, scholarships & fellowships, how to apply for a US passport, financial aid for study abroad, internships abroad, giveaways, and more.

At the fair, students can meet with the below providers who can share information about their program options (all over the world) and answer any questions.

API

New York Film Academy

Veritas University

WINS 

Worldstrides (ISA and TEAN programs)

Do you have questions about studying abroad or where you can go? Please come learn more. We’ll share details on Chatham exchange and partner programs as well as information on applying for Summer 2023 Chatham Field Experiences to Costa Rica, Germany, and Greece.

Campus partners will also be on-site to answer your questions about financial aid, scholarships, and career readiness resources specific to the study abroad experience.

We hope to see you at the fair!

For information on studying abroad as a Chatham student, and more information on study abroad vouchers, programs, and scholarships please contact internationalaffairs@chatham.edu.

Chatham University

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