Nikki Springer is a student at Iowa State University and is an ISA Featured Blogger. She interned abroad with ISA Internships in Shanghai, China.
Meeting new people abroad is life changing. When you meet new people they make you realize who you really are. I know this sounds cliche but it’s true and I’ve experienced it first hand.
You may think of yourself as shy and awkward, and maybe you are. But the thing that I’ve learned is that your flaws don’t matter to other people because your flaws are what make you, you! This is a huge testament to meeting new people, as often as we do, every time we put up a front. Why, why do we do this?
Because we are scared. Scared of what people will think, or scared that people won’t like us. But this misconception is so wrong. It’s hard to notice how accepting people are when for most of our lives people tend to judge straight away without getting to know you. Something that I find absolutely spectacular about traveling is that no matter who you are or where you’re from or what you like or dislike, all of you, your whole group chose this one destination, chose this one program, and magically that brings you all together despite the obvious differences.
This past year in China has truly been life changing. I look back to the person I was when I started studying abroad in China last fall, and I wish I could tell myself so many things. I wish I could tell myself to try more things, that no one knows how to use chopsticks right now so don’t worry about those ten dumplings you just spilled, that even though you’re super jet lagged you should go out of your comfort zone to talk more. Even though I wish I would’ve done things differently, I’m glad that everything happened the way it did. Because if any experience that I had were to change I would not have as many amazing memories as I do now.
A lot of people ask me if I regret doing something or not doing something while studying or interning abroad in China. The truth is I don’t regret any of my experiences that I’ve had this past year. I don’t regret the wrong bus taken (multiple times), the falling for someone in a different country, the pepper that I definitely wasn’t supposed to eat, going to a hot pot dinner that I wasn’t really invited to, eating not just one fish eyeball but two (p.s. both times it was disgusting), pre-booking a hostel and then ending up going to a Holiday Inn right across the street, and that one taxi ride we took to get to the metro on the other side of the street.
All of these experiences have helped me learn so much more about not only other people, other cultures, and other places but also I have learned so much about myself. There are no real limits to what I can and cannot do. The only person who can stop you or make you regret any decisions you make is yourself. Some advice that I live by is to not regret anything. Live in the moment because if you don’t you might miss out on some of the most amazing experiences you will ever have.
The world awaits…discover it.