This semester's a bit weirder for me than most.
I get up, say hi to my roommate, go to the bathroom and on the way there, I stop to see the giant window-view my apartment has of Upper Thomson Road in Singapore, Singapore.
See, that's why this semester's a bit weirder: I'm currently living abroad.
Last October, while everyone was busy gearing up for Halloween and the mid-term elections, I accepted a position with Bosch in Singapore. Bosch, a German multinational company, hadn't actually posted any study abroad programs with the school; but I saw an email through the Nicholson School of Communication and applied, thinking I would never get it but that it couldn't hurt to apply anyway.
Three months later, I flew out here; and I haven't regretted it yet.
Before I left, the people I love (namely my parents) realized there was only so much help they could give me. So they began passing on any and all fears that they had about me leaving to go live in an area that was pretty much on the exact opposite side of the world.
They thought the government in Singapore would persecute me for my faith. I'm Christian, so it won't. Singapore's fairly big on cultural diversity, being a crossroads of trade for most of Southeast Asia. I'd be a bigger target for human trafficking, being a foreign woman. Singapore's actually one of the safest cities in the world.
My parents also feared that I'd have my passport stolen — I'm still hoping this one doesn't come true — but it looks like I should be good on that one, too.
Their fears and worries were just another set of challenges I had to get through in order to get here. When I did, I realized what my actual challenges were — finding places to eat, getting myself on a schedule and finding times to talk to my friends. I'm still a little hazy on that last one, because there is an 11-hour time difference between Singapore and the States, but even that's not as bad as I'd have thought.
Having been through these challenges, I know I'm better for it. I'm more confident now. The first day, I was hopelessly lost. Then I got a cab and everything turned out OK.
There's also a certain amount of strength that you get from being on your own in a foreign country. The first few days can definitely be overwhelming, but once you can deal with that, it's almost like you feel you can deal with anything.
If you're considering going abroad, talk to the Office of Experiential Learning. Let them help you address your worries.
I promise, it's worth it.
Amber Hair is a contributing columnist at the Central Florida Future.