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Is studying abroad worthwhile?

By Min1989 ( Updated: 2014-06-16 11:22

I’d be lying through my teeth if I claimed that I never doubted my decision to study abroad. As a matter of fact, long before I got my offer from Wollongong University, there was one time I became really hesitant because my parents wanted to pull some strings to get me a position in a Chinese state-owned bank. At that time, I was torn between choosing stability and uncertainty. So I decided to turn to my friends for advice, which only made it even more difficult for me to decide as some of them suggested that I go and work in a bank while others advised that I be brave and go abroad. In the end, I actually applied to be a teller in that bank. After the application, I started searching information to prepare for the different rounds of interviews. The more I knew about that job, the less I liked it. So I declined the offer while I was informed of the time to take the paper exam. At that moment, to me, if I landed that stable job, it would be pretty easy to picture my life many years ahead of me.

Is studying abroad worthwhile?

Even after I finally arrived in Australia and started my course, I had some doubts about this choice. First of all, it was because I found that the course was way too abstract and theoretical. Moreover, some of my lecturers failed to combine the theories with the actual practice. For instance, we had a subject called “English Learners’ Problem,” which in fact was solely about English grammar. I had expected the lecturer to impart some useful methodologies regarding how to teach English grammar. Disappointingly, he just taught grammar the way my secondary school teachers did. The only difference was that he used English. Furthermore, one of the lecturers I had was not worth the salt as his teaching was simply too bad, even though he was working for the education department. Another significant reason was that most of my friends were doing, seemingly, pretty well in their positions while I was clueless what I could do for a living in the future. Also, sometimes, I would imagine what kind of life I would be leading if continued teaching English in China. When these thoughts got to me, I would ask myself whether I had made the right decision in the first place.

So, is studying abroad worthwhile? This is too big a question to answer considering that we have different prior experiences and future expectations. Here, I will attempt to provide some food for thought with respect to this topic.

Until now, I have been in Australia for almost one and half years and am going back to China to join the army of those hunting for jobs soon. Ever since I finished my last lecture, I have been considering this question to which I now know my answer is “yes”.

To start with, although I had complained about the quality of education I received here quite a few times, once I stop and look back how far I have gone, I have in effect benefited considerably from the education system here. I suppose I could have been more patient to see where this was going to take me.

I have become more active ever since I started studying in Australia. In the past, I was that type of student who would try to avoid answering questions in the class at any cost. Also, I felt like there were ants in my pants whenever the teacher stopped to point to students to answer questions. Even when I was an undergraduate, I would literally shake all the time when I stood up to answer questions. Of course, this can be partly attributed to the traditional force-feeding education in China, where the teacher is regarded as the only source of authority in the classroom. Due to that, I got accustomed to just sitting there and absorbing the knowledge. By contrast, in my master course, students were encouraged to ask questions and to learn from each other while the teacher was there to offer guidance, prompts and feedback. After a short period in this university, I didn’t sit about any more when it came to group discussion. Instead, most of the time, I was more than happy to voice my opinions, especially when they were acknowledged by my group members. Occasionally, I would also raise my hand to ask questions in class. Plus, once in a while, I would have a good debate with my classmates by stating an opposite opinion that was against theirs. Soon I was able to pull off a one-hour presentation without constantly checking the handout. Surprisingly, during that whole presentation, I felt very relaxed sitting on a table or leaning against it.

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