It has been almost a year at Southern Oregon University (SOU) for me as an international student from Nepal and it has truly been a unique and revealing experience. Saying goodbye to your family and friends is always a sad moment. I was sad obviously, but I was so ready and happy to be in a new place, around new people and to get the thrill of an amazing experience earning my Master of Science in Environmental Education.
Going abroad is always a big decision that might seem scary at first. But I found that I totally enjoyed it once I allowed myself to step out of my comfort zone and dare to try. It is not only about leaving your hometown and going somewhere new until your study is done. It is really about the experiences and the relationships that you build while being abroad. I have been able to make amazing friends and meet great people who added to my social network and helped me a lot in my academic life. What I have really enjoyed about this experience are the different perspectives that I got from different people; I have been able to give a part of my culture and receive an amazing experience back.
For me, the SOU campus is a totally different experience from my own campus in Nepal. It is lively and beautiful, full of joy, fun, clubs and sororities and fraternities. I am also really pleased with all the amazing opportunities for students to get involved on campus, particularly through student organizations, the Resource Center, and the International Student Center.
Academically, this year has given me a lot in terms of knowing what I want to do in the future. Through several of the Environmental Education courses I am learning how to develop curriculum and activities that meet educational standards and are place-based. Also, I am working with my fellow students to gain hands-on experience to plan, develop and implement a two month outdoor environmental education program called Fall In The Field. This program is delivered to local school groups that takes place in the fall of each year. It consists of both over-night residential programs at Deer Creek Center and day hikes on the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.
Being an international student abroad has taught me to open myself and make the most out of this experience. Although being new and alone somewhere can be a challenging experience, I think it also brings you a lot of personal benefits and gives you the ability to adapt to different experiences. I look at everything with an open mind and an inter-sectional perspective, which allows me to experience things that I never imagined.
Trying to meet new people and keeping an open mind in getting to know other cultures can help us to develop and become more mature people. I would not trade this experience for anything, and I can definitely say that this is one of the best moments of my life. I am thankful to everyone who has made it better and made me feel at home.
Written by Sujan Subedi
Photos by Sujan and others