Getting to 3 Campus East Asia
The choice to study abroad was the best decision of my academic career.
I was raised to believe that in life, there are only a few distinct and clearly marked career paths associated with “worth” and “success.” Well into my university career, I maintained this state of mind. As a freshman, sophomore, and even a first-semester junior, I didn’t consider studying abroad for this exact reason: my parents could not see what value a semester abroad would bring to my ultimate career goals. But I knew I wanted as much out of my time at Cornell as possible, and the more study abroad returnees I met, the more intrigued I became by the idea. Perhaps it was something I could do.
The biggest obstacle was my parents. My ideas of clear pathways to success had come directly from them, and they felt study abroad was outside the plans they had for me. As very traditional Nigerian immigrants, study abroad was a foreign concept to them. They had barely heard of it, and no one else’s child in our tight-knit community had ever done such a thing. To them, that was a perfect signal that it wasn’t something I should do.
Overcoming this barrier changed my relationship with my parents. I had always been the “yes” child—always sticking to the rules and never defying my parents, even when it meant sacrificing my own interests. In fact, I even rescinded my study abroad application halfway through the process because of my parents’ disapproval.
I reminded myself these are my four college years. My parents wouldn’t have to live with the regret of not having done something—I would...I have never been so happy with any choice I have made in my entire life.
In the end, as important as my parents and their opinions are to me, I had to remind myself these are my four college years. My parents wouldn’t have to live with the regret of not having done something—I would. This realization is what spurred my frantic application revival—thankfully, just before it was too late! I have never been so happy with any choice I have made in my entire life.
The second challenge was that of choice. I walked into the Office of Global Learning. The advisors showed me the options I could choose from—all of them. I was overwhelmed. As Cornell students, we are very fortunate that our university has connections with programs and institutions all over the world, but this wide range actually made the decision more difficult for me. I went from thinking I would have only two or three options to being able to choose from hundreds of opportunities, each one a bit more intriguing.
I remembered the lesson that this process reinforced over and over: there is no wrong option and no one path to success. Ultimately, I chose 3 Campus East Asia, a Cornell Global Program. By the end of my seven-month excursion, I had taken classes in Tokyo and Seoul and held a summer internship in Hong Kong!
Now when I think about my indecision, I can’t believe I might have missed out on this opportunity. The choice to study abroad can seem daunting. At times, it definitely did for me. I want you to remember these two things: 1) Yes, you can study abroad. Study abroad is for anyone who wants it. 2) there is no wrong option. Your path to study abroad may be different than mine, but rest assured, whatever program you choose will provide you with an unbelievable experience.
The choice to study abroad was the best decision of my academic career. Abroad, you learn not only in the classroom, but every day from those around you. You are living your study in a way you’ll never be able to do again. If you find that you want study abroad to be part of your university experience, know that it’s within your reach. Just go get it!