By Karun Lelahuta, ELP Graduate, Chatham Graduate Student
Karun wrote a speech to celebrate the his graduation from the English Language Program at Chatham University. He shares that studying abroad has helped him to widen his outlooks of the world, grow up and stand on his own, and love to make mistakes because that’s how he learns new things.
After studying at Chatham University for 9 months, I have gained much experience that guides me to become a person who I want to be.
Before I talk about the challenges I face during my study abroad experience, I want to tell you about my background. I was an unconfident person who tried to avoid groups of people. In daily life I used to be alone rather than hang around with my friends. My parents were concerned about me that I might have trouble when I grew up because I would have to work with many people. After I graduated from university in Thailand, they decided to send me to study abroad. My parents said to me, “You have to regain your English language skills” and they took me the United States. I can still remember how much I resisted to coming to the U.S. I thought to myself so many times day by day about why they wanted me to go to the U.S. just because of English. Finally, when they said to me that I could come back after 6 months, I agreed with them and came here to Pittsburgh.
Life in the United States was not as easy as I had thought. The first day I arrived in Chicago I had a horrible experience. I missed my flight to Pittsburgh, not because I was lost or I did not have enough time to transfer to another flight, but because of the TSA staff. She was very upset and shouted every minute, and she did her work very slowly, so I was stuck there for more than two hours and missed my flight. At that moment, I was so frustrated. I said to my mother who came along with me that I hated the United States. However, after that experience things got better. I tried to communicate with other students. At first, it was very hard to step out of my comfort zone. I was scared to make mistakes. I feared to communicate because my English was weak. I was afraid that I would lose my Japanese. However, I did not have any friend who can speak Thai, so it forced me to focus on my English. I am no longer afraid to face many challenges. I found Japanese friends. I overcame my fears.
I always think about the reasons why I came to the United States. Improving the second language is part of studying abroad. I think it helps me to learn other cultures and different ways of thinking. It helps me to have a wider outlook of the world after I have met so many people around the world. It helps me grow up and stand on my own because my family or my friends who always support me are not here, so I have to do everything by myself. It helps me love to make mistakes because I can learn new things. So, I always remember what my parents said to me “be brave and keep learning. You already have a chance to improve yourselves. Do not let it go.”
Don’t let your life drift away. Don’t let your emotions like fear control you – you have to control them. Don’t judge other people because you will learn something from them. Don’t fear to make mistakes. Don’t lose your hope because it will make you stronger. Step out of your cover and your will enjoy your new life.
I cannot say I already achieve all of my goals of studying abroad. I still have to learn many things to improve myself. However, I think to myself that I would not be a person who I am right now if my parents had never let me study aboard, and I would not be joyful if I had never met my friends here. So I want to thank you to everyone who always supports me. Thank you.