Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Meijie Tang is originally from China and currently is a master student at the University of Alabama, majoring in Applied Economics. She’s graduated from the University of West Alabama in May 2014 with a cum laude bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in Finance. By the time she graduated from college, she was a member of Delta Mu Delta National Honor Society in Business Administration and a treasurer in finance club. She was also nominated and inducted into Who‘s Who among Students in American Universities and College during senior year.

As an international student in US, I have experienced lots of cultural shocks. After being through all of those difficulties, if you ask me what is the most important lesson I get from my past experience, I will definitely tell you try your best to step out of your comfort zone and seize every potential opportunity as much as possible. And here is my story that I want to share with you today.
At the end of my junior year, one day I received an e-mail from university housing office about recruiting resident assistant (RA) for next academic year. According to that e-mail, I had met the minimum requirement for that position. Therefore, I struggled for days thinking about whether I should apply for it or not. On the one hand, I thought I really needed to seize this opportunity to get involved into campus life and learn more about American culture. Because at that time, my social life was just limited within Chinese students and I had little chances to improve my English as well as learning about American college students’ lives. But on the other hand, I was quite afraid that I would embarrass myself during the group interview process due to my poor English at that time. After weighing the pros and cons again and again, I got up the courage to submit my application form at the last minute before the online application system being closed. The moment I clicked the submit button, I realized that I was giving myself an opportunity to try something new.
My first challenge came during the training weeks. That was the first time I had interacted with American students for so long every day. I still remembered that I didn’t understand many of the colloquial terms that southern people used in their daily lives. Also their speaking speed and accent are hard for me to understand their meanings. These things all made me feel so depressed, and I blamed all of them on my poor English proficiency. I even considered giving up on this special opportunity.
Things changed after a conversation with my director. He told me that I shouldn’t doubt myself. The reason why he chose me was that he believed in my potential to become a good RA. He also encouraged me to be more positive rather than that negative. And he used his personal story of living in Germany to cheer me up. Finally, I stopped thinking negatively and decided to give it another shot.
Now I have finished my one year RA job. During this experience, I had ample opportunities to improve my English and got a deeper understanding of American culture. My personality has become more outgoing compared with what I used to be. The most important lesson I have learned from this experience is just like what I said at the very beginning. Sometimes when I see the challenges that lie ahead, I just think back to the advice my director gave me, and I will find that any problem can become quite small. When looking back, I think obtaining the RA position at my undergraduate university is the most influential milestone of my last few years’ life and everything I have done has been worthwhile!
Maybe you have different challenges at this moment. Remember you are not alone! There are lots of people in this world who are experiencing the similar situation. No matter what challenge it is, it’s really significant to take the first step out and you will find something new for your own life journey.

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