How to Live in Another World

By , Pullman, WA
I am from another world.

My world is an ocean away and when I came to this new world, I foolishly wondered if my old world would stay the same without me in it. For the first few months at this extremely different world, I was devastated.

Although I am now able to poke fun at the difficulties that I had when I first came to this world, it was hard to do so back when my English-speaking and listening skills were less than perfect. For example, the most frequent response to any kind of sentence that I mustered up the courage to speak was “what?” combined with a confused and sometimes annoyed expression. I always had to repeat what I said in a smaller, discouraged voice. Also, when I did not fully understand what someone said and asked them to repeat, most people did what irked me very much; they spoke very slowly. One who is not fluent in a language isn’t going to understand it because someone speaks it in slow motion. Suppose that someone is not fluent in Swedish. Would he understand it better if it were spoken very slowly? I only wished for people to speak with more clarity. Instead, their eyes became frighteningly bigger and their mouths moved in slow motion, as if they were demanding me to understand them this time.

For almost everyone, adjusting to life in a place that is culturally different from his or her country is indescribably horrible. Back when I was in my old world, people always said nice things about this new world that I was about to be a part of. They said the people were nice, the air was nice, the education was nice, and everything else was nice. In my twelve-year-old mind, this different world seemed like a paradise, which turned out to be wrong. It was just like any other world, although in some ways worse and in some ways better than other worlds. This world was filled with opportunities that would not have been possible in most other worlds. However, it did not strike me as a unique place that would give me fond memories like those from my old world; it was a place where different cultures mixed too well with one another. Little bits of every culture on earth could be found in this world, but it did not have a culture of its own.

In some cases, people never learn to live in a new environment and they give up and go back, which one of my friends did. Her English name was Alice. She came to this country, hopeful that she would adapt well to this purportedly nice place. However, Alice was unable to endure living in a new world for more than six months. She went back to where she was born, where she was comfortable, and where she had many people whom she could rely on. However, part of learning how to live in a different world is getting in the habit of not admitting defeat. However, surrendering to one’s fears is not the solution. Rather, one must try to conquer them because every second of struggling is invaluable and should not be wasted.

An unexpected challenge that comes from living in a different world includes not losing one’s identity in the process of adapting. As I tweaked myself gradually to the culture of this new environment, I found that I was losing my old self. While it is true that renewing oneself is beneficial, one should never forget their origin. This is crucial because it is part of learning how to be a part of a new world; I am here because I was there first. I would not be who I am now if I did not spend twelve years of my life there. In other words, to live in a different world, one must not disregard one’s past because doing so would mean losing the essence of their existence.

Another important and helpful skill is being able to use the good aspects about the new environment to one’s advantage. Every world has two sides; some aspects of this world disgusted me very much but I considered other aspects of this world better than those of my old world. The key to mastering living in a different world is focusing on the good characteristics. For instance, school is easier in this country, so I took advantage of it by pushing myself a bit more than I did in my old world. Teachers are less strict and more approachable, so I asked them for help if I had problems. I am not saying that one should ignore the negative aspects of a country because ignorance is never good. While being aware of the negative aspects, one should make the most of the positive ones.

Without having the opportunity to be thrown into a radically different place, it would be hard to understand why having that experience is so priceless. In my case, this eye-opening experience transformed who I am as a human being; I am less afraid to try new things and I am less narrow-minded, which I think of as having a wider view of the world. I became a better person by learning how to survive in a place that I detested at first. I accomplished this by not giving in or losing myself in the way, and utilizing the good qualities of that world to my advantage. Living in a different world entails some sacrifices. However, in the process, I gained something that cannot be gained without sacrifice: an upgraded version of myself.

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