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#PassTheMic – Notes from a Net Blazer #2 – Things that Surprised Me

Dear Net Buddies and Blazers,

I live in NYC and there are a lot of dogs, but you never hear them bark at night. In South Africa we always heard the neighbor’s dog bark.

Prior to coming to the United States, my main focus was doing well in school because I believed that was the first step for opportunities to open up for me. Therefore, the only challenges I really faced were regarding school and helping my family. When I decided that I wanted to pursue my higher education in America, this was a turning point for me, as the process taught me many things I had never been through before.

I recall being at the EducationUSA offices in Sandton and receiving a folder with information on applying to schools and prepping for the SAT. I became overwhelmed and knew it was going to be a lot of work. I also started to become anxious because I didn’t know if I could meet the expectations set on me. I remember Dick Scanlon saying to me that the process is like a mountain you have to climb and to take one step at a time rather than looking at the whole thing at once. This advice is something I apply to everything I do up to this day. Whenever something seems overly complicated, I just focus on one step at a time.

Many of the obstacles I had to take on after that became manageable. There were a lot of things I didn’t expect because I had never applied to colleges in America, but I was learning something new every step of the way. I learned how to fill out an application and write application essays. I also learned how to apply for a visa, how to negotiate financial aid, and many other things. These skills helped me apply for my MBA as I was able to write strong application essays and negotiate financial aid. Now as a student again, I’m going to learn a lot more.

Once in college there were a few things that surprised me. Everyone was so nice and eager to help me, if needed. Whenever I was struggling in classes, I always wanted to figure things out on my own as that’s how I grew up. I wasn’t used to asking for help, but others were not ashamed to ask for help. I saw many students take advantage of the private tutoring the college offered. Eventually, I started to ask too, but it was difficult at times as I felt I was being a burden to others. After some time, I wasn’t ashamed to ask for help. Even after graduation, I had help from others because getting used to applying for jobs and interviewing was tough. Overall, despite facing many obstacles, some expected, some not, I’ve learned a lot and am motivated to continue to achieve my goals. I’ve learned how to take on challenges and always take a lesson away from them. Finally, my big take away was that people in NYC are go getters and to make it here you need to be motivated and driven.

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