My name is Meng Liu, a recent graduate from the E.W.Scripps School of Journalism in Ohio University. I travelled to America 2 years ago to further my study because of my interest in news writing. I finished my thesis recently and I am working in an online lifestyle magazine and fashion in New York City.
Embrace the Hardship with a Smile
Two years have passed since I first came to America. It can be surprising how time flies and can change the course of your life dramatically. For most people, two years are no more than getting two years older and celebrating two Thanksgivings with their beloved families. For me, however, these are the most rewarding years of my life.
To go all the way across the ocean, studying and living in a completely different country is a rather big decision to make. But the world out there is too enchanting to be missed out. I feel I am still too young and curious to pass on opportunities that the world has to offer. So I threw a backpack on my shoulder and headed out to a world that I barely know about. Well, it is a little more complicated than I thought.
I was overwhelmed the moment I landed on this country. Standing there all alone by myself in the airport, seeing people rushing passed me to their destinations, I felt very insecure and at loss. When the airport worker who helped me with my luggage asked for tips and I’ve got no cash on me, I lost it completely. That was my first encounter with the concept “Culture Shock”. In my hometown, we never tip somebody out of gratuity. We just say thank you. I always know that there is a huge difference between American and Chinese culture. But I never realized until then at that airport that I was going to experience every little bit of the impact of this culture shock.
It was frightening at the beginning. Even though everybody around me was nice and friendly, I still struggled with the cultural difference painfully. I had to learn everything from scratch because people do things very differently here in America. And there is no need to even mention how tough grad school can be in America: essays after essays to write and endless deadlines to meet, just to mention a few… Things can get out of control when I was trying to balance between life and study. The idea of giving up and hiding in the corner of my comfortable home crossed my mind more than once. At these moments of weaknesses, I always traced back to the momentum that stimulated me to the decision of studying in America.
I believe that life is too short to be lived in one single place. I believe when you are young, you need to be a little adventurous and audacious. You need to get out of your comfort zone and take a leap of faith. You need to expose yourself to different things that will inspire you to break free of your limitations. You need to explore and exploit the potential and talent you possess. It may even surprise yourself what you can achieve until you get your hands on it and try.
Despite the hardship in grad school, I still tried my best to look for internships that will complement my academic work with a touch of practical skills. The beginning of this journey was extremely difficult because I am a foreigner and I struggle with both language and culture. Luckily, it turned out to be quite a rewarding experience because the internships I did not only opened my eyes to a whole different world, but also equipped me with skills I need to succeed in my future career. I have been out there attending movie premieres and interviewing movie starts, going to New York Fashion Week Shows and working with influential people in the fashion industry. Two years ago, I couldn’t imagine I was capable of doing all these.
I am very proud of myself. Those baby steps boost my confidence and build what I am today. Now looking back at where I was two years ago, I feel I have grown a lot and I am really grateful for all the challenges life has placed in front of me. This is not the final chapter of my adventure. One can only grow and mature through the hardship. And if you embrace it with a smile, you can turn hardship into harvest.
There are still more out there for me to see and explore now that I have graduated and officially joined the workforce. This is the best time of our lives —— in college and at our early 20s. We are young, yet not naïve, mature yet can still dream, responsible yet can still take risks. Don’t hide or be shy, but spread your wings and soar up high!