What Made You Decide To Study Abroad?
March 19, 2021
Years ago, when I was still trying to decide whether to stay in my home country or go abroad to pursue a Master’s degree, I employed the usual technique of listing down the pros and cons of each option that I had. It did help a little bit, but what ultimately led me to arrive at a decision was after I asked myself: “What is my goal? What do I want to get out of this?” That’s when I realized that what I was really looking for was something more—an experience that will further strengthen my knowledge and expertise in my chosen field. This is not to say that my education in the Philippines was lacking in any way; I had so much to learn from my university’s rigorous undergraduate program and all its brilliant professors which provided me with the necessary foundations and honed me to be the person that I am. But it is also for this very reason that I found myself with a desire to learn more about how I can apply this knowledge into practice in a manner that will really produce a significant impact to my clients’ lives and even to the larger community.
I was a newly licensed occupational therapist then, barely even worked a year, when I was presented with the opportunity to go to the US. I welcomed the news with both excitement and apprehension, as I was already starting out my career and had all my future plans set out—or so I thought. Making a decision definitely wasn’t an easy feat, with the thought of being separated from my loved ones holding me back the most. Nevertheless, all of my family members and friends were (and still are) very supportive of whatever decision I make—something that I truly appreciate and am very thankful for to this date. As you can tell, I ended up deciding to leave behind the comfortable life that I had for something that’s entirely out of my comfort zone—studying abroad. After performing extensive research about USC Chan and its Post-Professional Master’s program, reading student blogs, consulting various people, I determined that pursuing this road would bring me towards my goal of gaining life experiences that are worthwhile and would add value to my future practice. I felt terrified but at the same time thrilled by the many opportunities that I had imagined this decision would open up for me.
True enough, throughout the time that I have been in the program, I have found myself being the recipient of unique opportunities that I never would have earned in any other place: studying in the #1 ranked OT program in the US, learning from exceptional professors who worked closely with the very people who pioneered OT practice areas such as Sensory Integration and Lifestyle Redesign®, witnessing various breakthroughs in research by many renowned faculty, being part of a supportive community who puts great value in rich perspectives that its diverse students bring to the table, and working as a student ambassador which allowed me to further expand my professional network and enhance a lot of my skills. I put great value in these experiences which is why I feel very satisfied with the choice that I had made back then.
To anyone who is trying to come to a decision on whether to study abroad or not, I unfortunately do not have the answer, but I do have a question for you: What is your goal? I invite you to ask yourself that question that only you could answer, by finding out what you think is worthwhile and in line with what you want to achieve in life.