A lot of things went wrong during my semester abroad in Shanghai, China. Specifically with the living abroad part of studying abroad (the academic part is another blog altogether). Some of these mishaps didn’t really have an upside. When I couldn’t find my brand of dry shampoo, for example, there was no miraculous Chinese alternative ... I just used baby powder. But most disasters shook out OK, like when my favorite Korean fried rice place closed earlier than expected and I bought dinner from a nearby food stand I’d have never tried otherwise. It was about 8 kuai cheaper and the best fried rice I’ve ever had, bar none.
All told, these situations led me to try, taste, explore and experience things that I may not have otherwise — and to grow in ways that were never on my agenda.
The first thing that I did when I got to Seoul, South Korea, for my monthlong independent research project — funded by the College’s Lynk curriculum-to-career initiative — was miss my bus stop.
As I clicked the “Launch Project Now” button, the Kickstarter website for my creation went live. I sat back in my chair and thought about how my journey to this moment — the launch of my ZIRUI Go Case — all started.
As a child, spinning on an office chair at my dad’s desk, I discovered the power of digital technology. Playing “Myst” and other computer games transported me to another world: an awe-inspiring journey with nooks and crannies, ready to be explored.
As a visual learner, I also spent a lot of my childhood exploring museums and making art. Coupled with my interest in history and the humanities, I found the decision to attend a liberal arts college to be an easy one.
My Mount Holyoke journey began with a jolt: culture shock. Followed by waves and pangs: homesickness.
I endured a 22-hour flight — my first solo intercontinental journey — and arrived in a country that my Nigerian parents and I knew mainly from maps and news stories. Where I had no parents to move me into my first residence hall room or help me adjust to foods so radically different from what I’d eaten all my life. Where I soon met 2,200 strangers who would become the closest thing I had to family in this new land.
My journey wrapped up with emotions cut from a much different cloth — pride, appreciation, awe, excitement, connections — as fittingly symbolized by the College’s Stoling ceremony.