I have often wondered about the language problems faced by some of the international students in the U.S. college system and how it affects their academic performance. I will be taking at least one class to improve my French language skills and hope to learn more about the challenges faced by international students whose language proficiency may be weak. In addition, I am also concerned by the declining performance of U.S. education system, especially at the high school level. Many countries in Europe such as Finland have quite efficient high school education system and I hope I will meet students from different European countries to gain ideas of how my country can learn from others’ experiences.
One of the questions that have always puzzled me is the perceived political and cultural distances between Americans and French despite the fact that the two countries came quite close after the WWII. I realize the answers I get from my loved ones and friends often have personal bias and I have not met many French. There is no doubt they may also have certain bias but getting to know them better and comparing them to my experiences at home will provide me with more objective understanding of the perceived cultural and political distance between the two countries.
I also believe this trip will be valuable investment in my future given the emerging trends. Our world is increasingly being shaped by globalization which means economic and cultural interaction among countries has been rising. As a result, it is important to have strong cross-cultural knowledge and communication skills to succeed in the 21st century. This is one of the motivations behind my continuous interaction with international students here. But I always have the advantage of being a local in the U.S., thus, I will learn more in France where I will be in a foreign culture and will have greater pressure to conform to local cultures and values. I hope this trip will provide me with valuable education and foundation for an international career.
I also believe wherever I go, I am an ambassador for my country. U.S. is the leading economic and political power in the world and there is always a possibility that the U.S. Government may make decisions that are unpopular abroad. Such decisions often have the unfortunate impact of creating negative perceptions about American people. I hope to help my fellow French students and those from other cultures that people are almost quite similar everywhere when it comes to their desire for peace around the world and their national governments are not always good representative of the wishes of the majority.
I am grateful for this opportunity and hope I will make good use of it. I definitely feel confident because I already have a plan and a good idea of what I hope to achieve. It is my desire that my experiences will inspire many others to pursue study abroad opportunities.