Reflecting on Arizona

Coming from a tiny country, Brunei, with a total population of only 420 thousand, I am very fortunate to have had the opportunity to study abroad at the University of Arizona in the US. I studied there through The Study Abroad Foundation (SAF) and they were incredibly helpful, making the entire process smooth and less stressful. My stay there for one academic year exceeded all the expectations that I could have had.

Unlike the British-based education system back in my home university, it was interesting to experience the slightly different American education system, and I think this has taught me different strategies which will definitely improve my study habits back home. Everyone there was friendly and very helpful. The students were very competitive, outspoken, open-minded and diligent. After a while, I couldn’t help but become one of them in order to keep up, which is a good thing.

When asked about my favorite memory, it would be the friends and bonds I made there. I joined and was actively involved with the university’s International Student Association (ISA). Amazingly, I befriended students from 28 different countries. When I am not occupied with my studies, I would always join them for outings to the movies, picnics and bowling. We visited famous local places like the Tucson Desert Museum, Old Tucson Studios and Reid Park Zoo. ISA also organized international workshops where I attended one on international language and one on international dance. I got really close to some people, and we even traveled together to iconic places such as the Grand Canyon, Great Salt Lake, Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York during our winter and spring break holidays.

No doubt, immersing and surrounding myself with people of different backgrounds during my stay in the US has ultimately molded me into a better person. Not only have I learned to move past cultural and other differences, I am now well aware of how different cultures affect people’s perspectives on certain situations, and obtaining this outlook has surely taught me contemporary and improved ways to view the world around me.

All in all, I strongly recommend students to go for any study abroad program or anything alike if they get the chance. The amazing time I had, the beneficial knowledge and priceless experience that I acquired abroad were to me something that I can never express enough. I arrived there with two suitcases. I left with three suitcases and something more, something of immeasurable worth, something that will positively stay with me for my entire life.

Home: Universiti Brunei Darussalam
Host: University of Arizona
Major: Environmental Studies

~  From an SAF Student Correspondent