Monday, April 4, 2011

On the Other Side - Sean from APU

LCC puts out a monthly student newspaper called the Student Times, and it truly is great. Articles range from current issues students are facing (like campus security, the new dorm being built, etc.) to movie reviews and annual LCC events. One section is called Study Abroad Diary, where an SA student shares anything about their experience. In one of the earlier blogs, Alyssa posted her February article about cooking and grocery shopping in Lithuania, ending up with her making the surprise/disappointment of "hot dog pasta." I was asked to write one for March, and I would like to share it with you! "On the Other Side" a little more on the reflective-side, but hopefully it gives you a little insight in what this semester could look like for you:


If I could choose only one word to effectively summarize this semester so far, it would be adventure. After all, it’s my automatic response when everyone back home asks the extremely loaded question, “So, how’s Lithuania?” as if it’s possible for me to verbally express it in full. Although “adventure” is the typical word to use when describing a study abroad semester, mission trip, or any other international endeavor, for me, this is truly an adventure—an incredible opportunity of discovering what happens on the other side of the world.

Yes, it’s true. Hawaii is literally on the other side of the world, and it just so happens to be my home. Obviously, it’s not very common for a full Filipino from Hawaii to be in Lithuania; I don’t even think more than 3% of the entire population of Hawaii could locate Lithuania on a map. Believe it or not, “Why would you ever come to this cold wasteland?” is a question students ask me on a weekly basis by students. Although I definitely do not agree with the harsh term they used, I could see why the place I consider home draws a bit of curiosity from others. Though it doesn’t seem appealing for someone like me (affectionately called “the dude from Hawaii!” by fellow LCC students) to choose a study abroad program in a place that is freezing, 99.9% white, and somewhat random, I wanted to experience something completely unique—an essential factor in every adventure.
Within this adventure, filled with contrasting times of frustration and utter joy, I have definitely loved witnessing the uniqueness of this intercultural community on the other side of the world; living in such an enriching environment such as LCC’s is an awesome gift, which I hope students don’t ever take for granted.

Several breath-taking moments throughout the semester have become milestones I will never forget. To be honest, one of those moments was during the Kazakhstan Independence Day celebration about three weeks after I departed the States. I very much enjoyed listening to the presentation and being educated by people I now consider my friends. However, when I realized the mere fact that we, in community, had the opportunity to celebrate and embrace the cultures of those different from us, it really hit me, and I fell in love with this campus, this city, this entire experience.

Without a doubt, my perspective on culture has expanded. I thought being in such a diverse place in Hawaii was sufficient enough to somewhat understand the intercultural, international, intereverything of humanity, but after having the opportunity to befriend, explore, and reflect on this entire new experience, I don’t think I’ll ever grasp the magnitude of differences that are represented in this world. It’s actually kind of a good thing because it gives me a reason to travel forever.

From the awesome opportunities that come with living in Eastern Europe, like going to a Russia v. Sweden hockey game in Stockholm, to the fulfilling, yet subtle everyday moments, characterized by embracing the brilliance of the same sun that shines in my home, choosing to participate in this exhilarating and transformational adventure on the other side of the world was an absolutely great life-choice.
If you actually read the whole thing, I congratulate you. It's pretty lengthy.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed it.
A few of us study abroads are heading to Brussels, Belgium tomorrow. I will for sure update you all on that! Stoooooked!

Peace.

(Click here if you would like to read the whole March issue for the Student Times.)

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