Studying abroad is an experience that can change a person’s life in countless ways. The opportunity to immerse oneself in a new culture, learn a new language, and make friends from around the world is truly priceless. As a student from Kenya, I had always dreamed of studying abroad, and when the opportunity finally presented itself, I jumped at the chance. I also knew that the US had countless opportunities for everyone around the world and one does not have to struggle in order to access these opportunities. Little did I know that the next few months would be filled with challenges, adventures, and unforgettable memories that would shape me into the person I am today. In this essay, I will share my experience studying abroad and the valuable lessons I learned along the way.
Education is one of the most important aspects of a person’s life, and it varies greatly from country to country. As someone who has experienced both the American and Kenyan education systems, I can attest to the stark differences between the two. One of the most noticeable differences is the number of students in a class. While the average class size in the United States is around 18 students, it is not uncommon for college classes in Kenya to have as many as 140 students.
The impact of this difference cannot be understated. In the United States, students have the opportunity to build a relationship with their professors, ask questions, and receive individualized attention. In Kenya, however, it can be challenging for students to get the help they need because of the sheer number of students in the classroom. This can result in a lack of engagement and understanding of the subject matter, ultimately leading to lower academic performance.
Another significant difference between the two education systems is the length of class time. In the United States, classes typically last between 50 minutes to one hour, while in Kenya, classes can last up to 2-3 hours. While longer classes may seem like a good thing, it can be exhausting for students to sit through extended periods of time, leading to a lack of focus and engagement.
Additionally, in the United States, students are encouraged to ask questions and participate in class discussions. In Kenya, however, the classroom environment can be more rigid, and students may be hesitant to speak up. This can lead to a lack of intellectual curiosity and a more passive learning experience.
Another perception that I had of the US is that the learning system was going to be very much different from what I am used to back home. I agree it was a bit different but most of the things were what I learned back home. This applies specifically to math courses. I knew the math courses were going to be way harder than what I am used to, back in my home country. This was just a perception I had and realized that the math courses in the US are doable and the professors are willing to help whenever you are stuck.
Many people from other countries perceive the United States as a highly individualistic society, where people only care about themselves and their personal achievements. I also had this perception before coming to the US. However, this perception changed when I experienced life in the U.S. firsthand. I found that people in the U.S. are friendly and welcoming and that they value social connections and helping others.
Language barriers can pose significant challenges for international students studying in the United States. As someone who has experienced the difficulties of adapting to a new language and culture, I understand the importance of overcoming these obstacles to succeed in academia and daily life.
The language barrier can affect a student’s ability to communicate with professors, classmates, and the larger community. International students may find it difficult to understand lectures, take notes, or participate in class discussions due to a lack of fluency in English. This can result in feelings of isolation and frustration, leading to a lack of academic performance and difficulty in building relationships with classmates and professors.
Additionally, cultural differences can exacerbate the language barrier. International students may find it challenging to understand cultural norms, slang, or colloquial expressions, making it difficult to form relationships and feel comfortable in social situations. It can also make navigating everyday tasks, such as grocery shopping or transportation, more challenging.
However, despite these differences, both education systems have their strengths and weaknesses and offer unique opportunities for students to learn and grow.
Kusoma nje ya nchi ni uzoefu ambao unaweza kubadilisha maisha ya mtu kwa njia nyingi. Fursa ya kujitumbukiza katika utamaduni mpya, kujifunza lugha mpya, na kupata marafiki kutoka ulimwenguni pote ni yenye thamani sana. Nikiwa mwanafunzi kutoka Kenya, siku zote nilikuwa na ndoto ya kusoma nje ya nchi, na fursa ilipojidhihirisha, nilichangamkia. Pia nilijua kwamba Marekani ilikuwa na fursa nyingi kwa kila mtu duniani kote na si lazima mtu ahangaike ili kupata fursa hizi. Sikujua kwamba miezi michache ijayo ingejawa na changamoto, matukio, na kumbukumbu zisizoweza kusahaulika ambazo zingenitengeneza kuwa mtu niliye leo. Katika insha hii, nitashiriki uzoefu wangu wa kusoma nje ya nchi na masomo muhimu niliyojifunza njiani.
Elimu ni mojawapo ya vipengele muhimu zaidi vya maisha ya mtu, na inatofautiana sana kati ya nchi na nchi. Kama mtu ambaye amepitia mifumo ya elimu ya Marekani na Kenya, naweza kuthibitisha tofauti kubwa kati ya hizo mbili. Tofauti moja inayoonekana zaidi ni idadi ya wanafunzi katika darasa. Ingawa wastani wa ukubwa wa darasa nchini Marekani ni takriban wanafunzi 18, si jambo la kawaida kwa madarasa ya chuo kikuu nchini Kenya kuwa na wanafunzi 140.
Athari ya tofauti hii haiwezi kupunguzwa. Nchini Marekani, wanafunzi wana fursa ya kujenga uhusiano na maprofesa wao, kuuliza maswali, na kupokea uangalizi wa kibinafsi. Nchini Kenya, hata hivyo, inaweza kuwa changamoto kwa wanafunzi kupata usaidizi wanaohitaji kwa sababu ya idadi kubwa ya wanafunzi darasani. Hii inaweza kusababisha kukosekana kwa ushiriki na uelewa wa somo, na hatimaye kusababisha utendaji wa chini wa masomo.
Tofauti nyingine kubwa kati ya mifumo miwili ya elimu ni urefu wa muda wa darasa. Nchini Marekani, madarasa huchukua kati ya dakika 50 hadi saa moja, wakati nchini Kenya, madarasa yanaweza kudumu hadi saa 2-3. Ingawa madarasa marefu yanaweza kuonekana kama jambo zuri, inaweza kuwa ya kuchosha kwa wanafunzi kukaa kwa muda mrefu, na kusababisha ukosefu wa umakini na ushiriki.
Zaidi ya hayo, nchini Marekani, wanafunzi wanatiwa moyo kuuliza maswali na kushiriki katika mazungumzo ya darasani. Nchini Kenya, hata hivyo, mazingira ya darasani yanaweza kuwa magumu zaidi, na wanafunzi wanaweza kusitasita kuzungumza. Hii inaweza kusababisha ukosefu wa udadisi wa kiakili na uzoefu wa kujifunza zaidi.
Mtazamo mwingine niliokuwa nao kuhusu Marekani ni kwamba mfumo wa kujifunza ulikuwa tofauti sana na ule ambao nimezoea kurudi nyumbani. Ninakubali ilikuwa tofauti kidogo lakini mambo mengi yalikuwa yale niliyojifunza nyumbani. Hii inatumika haswa kwa kozi za hesabu. Nilijua kozi za hesabu zingekuwa ngumu zaidi kuliko nilivyozoea, nikiwa nimerudi katika nchi yangu. Huu ulikuwa ni mtazamo tu niliokuwa nao na nikagundua kuwa kozi za hesabu nchini Marekani zinaweza kutekelezeka na maprofesa wako tayari kukusaidia wakati wowote unapokwama.
Watu wengi kutoka nchi nyingine wanaona Marekani kama jamii yenye ubinafsi mkubwa, ambapo watu wanajijali wao wenyewe na mafanikio yao ya kibinafsi pekee. Pia nilikuwa na mtazamo huu kabla ya kuja Marekani. Walakini, maoni haya yalibadilika nilipojionea maisha huko Marekani. Niligundua kuwa watu nchini Marekani ni wenye urafiki na wanakaribisha na kwamba wanathamini miunganisho ya kijamii na kusaidia wengine.
Vizuizi vya lugha vinaweza kuleta changamoto kubwa kwa wanafunzi wa kimataifa wanaosoma nchini Marekani. Kama mtu ambaye amepitia ugumu wa kuzoea lugha na tamaduni mpya, ninaelewa umuhimu wa kushinda vizuizi hivi ili kufaulu katika taaluma na maisha ya kila siku.
Kizuizi cha lugha kinaweza kuathiri uwezo wa mwanafunzi kuwasiliana na maprofesa, wanafunzi wenzake na jamii kubwa zaidi. Wanafunzi wa kimataifa wanaweza kupata ugumu wa kuelewa mihadhara, kuandika madokezo, au kushiriki katika mijadala ya darasani kwa sababu ya ukosefu wa ufasaha wa Kiingereza. Hii inaweza kusababisha hisia za kutengwa na kuchanganyikiwa, na kusababisha ukosefu wa utendaji wa kitaaluma na ugumu wa kujenga uhusiano na wanafunzi wa darasa na maprofesa.
Zaidi ya hayo, tofauti za kitamaduni zinaweza kuzidisha kizuizi cha lugha. Wanafunzi wa kimataifa wanaweza kupata changamoto kuelewa kanuni za kitamaduni, misimu, au misemo ya mazungumzo, na kufanya iwe vigumu kuunda mahusiano na kujisikia vizuri katika hali za kijamii. Inaweza pia kufanya usogezaji kazi za kila siku, kama vile ununuzi wa mboga au usafiri, kuwa na changamoto zaidi.
Hata hivyo, licha ya tofauti hizi, mifumo yote miwili ya elimu ina nguvu na udhaifu wake na inatoa fursa za kipekee kwa wanafunzi kujifunza na kukua.