Working on Personal Growth

Guest Post By: Alina Guo, a Senior studying Finance and Information Systems. She is a Global Business Center Study Abroad Scholarship Recipient, and she studied abroad through a Foster Exchange and Direct Enroll at the National University of Singapore in Queenstown, Singapore, during Spring Semester 2023.

When I first arrived in Singapore in January 2023 to begin by four-month long study abroad journey, I was entirely alone in a foreign country with no luggage (unfortunately, the airline had lost my luggage), no money, and no clue what was happening. In retrospect, I am happy to say that things definitely went uphill from there. 

In my first couple of weeks, I marveled at how different Singapore is compared to America. Singapore is very ethnically and culturally diverse, which is immediately reflected in the different foods that are eaten, different languages that are spoken, and even in the architectural style of buildings in different areas of the country. Moreover, Singapore is absolutely breathtakingly beautiful, not only because it is incredibly clean with little pollution, but also because of the intentional designs that went behind every aspect of city planning. The glamour of Singapore was not limited to the Merlion Park, Marina Bay Sands, and Gardens by the Bay; it could be appreciated even just from walking down any random street or looking out the window of a bus. 

What I am most grateful about throughout this entire experience was definitely the people I got to meet, and as cliché as it sounds, it was truly life changing. I was actually very nervous about making new friends during my study abroad semester, but I feel very fortunate that it did not take long for me to meet some amazing people that I definitely intend to keep in touch with even after returning home from Singapore. What I loved was that I was meeting people from all around the world – from Europe, Australia, Canada, China, and, of course, Singapore. Each person had such a unique story to tell, and all of these stories reminded me of how different we all are. When I am living at home and seeing the same people all the time, I sink into my comfort zone where I forget to be curious and inquisitive and lose the motivation to learn and explore beyond what I already know. Being in Singapore, however, forced me out of my comfort zone in the best way possible. I realized that there are so many more possibilities out in the world that I have never even considered before, whether it be with academics, careers, or friends. I genuinely believe that this study abroad experience has changed my mentality and opened up my perspective on how I want to conduct my life. Being only 21, I definitely do not have a solid idea of what my future holds, but moving forward, I want to continue to welcome uncertainty, spontaneity, and adventure because these have helped me achieve the most personal growth.

Finally, I want to point out that studying abroad was such a fun and unique experience. I had an amazing time not only exploring Singapore, but also Malaysia, Indonesia, Korea, and Taiwan, and ultimately, I feel very fulfilled with everything I managed to accomplish in the past four months. Through it all, I am left with a plethora of unforgettable memories and more confidence and independence than I have ever felt before. If you are even considering studying abroad, my advice is to go for it. You have nothing to lose and so much to gain.