Columns / Discourse / May 20, 2015

Sacrifices to study in the U.S.A.

It’s a big decision to study abroad in the USA for anyone in the world who has never been educated in USA. Even if the American education system is identified as the world’s standard, it’s hard for foreign students to adapt to the American education system so suddenly. If someone really wants to come to the USA to be educated at a university, I would highly recommend they take more time to think of themselves and whether they would be able to accept any cultural shocks and sacrifices that are based on understanding America’s two essences of diversity and freedom. Since I saw video clips of students who study abroad at Ivy League universities, I dreamed of studying at an American college. When I received an acceptance letter from Knox, I was so happy that I couldn’t think of the drawbacks that I may have to face. For anyone who had never experienced American-style education, they might sometimes feel lost about themselves because they feel like they are alone in the maze of diversity and freedom that are the main values of American education.

As education is one of the most important things for anyone,  international students who come to the USA are determined to receive the best of the education in the world. It is inevitably necessary for them to sacrifice their time and effort to understand the main values of American education: diversity and freedom. Understanding these two values can be good guidelines for them to be successful in the USA, even though those two values can also be misinterpreted, causing them to fail in the USA. If these values are misinterpreted, they will be useless to be successful in the USA because of how diversity can also be a discriminating factor for themselves and freedom can make them feel lost in their way to reaching their dreams in the USA. For anyone, it’s hard to understand the real meaningful methods of realizing the two values of diversity and freedom. Clearly, we can say that they are double sided; they both have good aspects and bad aspects.

In terms of understanding the value of diversity in the USA, it’s hard to have a set standard of something that people can evaluate when we look at others in the USA because everyone is too different to be measured by a simple standard. Everyone has a uniqueness and the uniqueness is what makes the USA’s education system better. The USA’s education system is based on the uniqueness of each individual and it respects everyone’s individuality in a good way. For me, South Korea has only one social norm to define what is considered to be right or not, and I have been surprised to accept every single uniqueness that we can observe around the Knox community. But the diverse aspects of an American education also have the danger of creating discrimination and discrepancies in accepting these differences. Diversity values should be a way of understanding many differences that we can discover in the USA.

For understanding the concept of freedom in the USA, it’s somewhat questionable for international students to answer where the freedom currently is and where the freedom is from. Freedom is the most ironic value that can be misinterpreted by anyone because everyone can have their own definition of what freedom should be. Any form of freedom should be controlled by ourselves and freedom should be within our own boundaries that shouldn’t prevent others from having their own.

Both diversity and freedom have been the most important basic concepts that motivate many Americans to innovate their own life and to change American society into a better one in the world. It’s very natural for American students to see the world in terms of diversity and freedom as social norms, while international students from other countries need some time to understand those two values more clearly. Sometimes, students who study abroad in the USA can feel lost in their own way of understanding these two values. However, it’s an inevitable step for them to accept them and international students will need time to think about how these two values will affect their studying abroad experiences in the USA as they sacrifice their time and efforts to be students there.

Josh Ji

Tags:  american education diversity experience freedom international students Knox College sacrifice values

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