The Year Thus Far…

I set a goal I could not achieve, and there is no excuse

Tim Mossholder from Unsplash

In January 2022, I promised myself to publish one article per month on medium. It is December and the last time I published was in August! I dare to say that there is no excuse whatsoever for not meeting up with the challenge because I have met/heard of individuals who are extremely busy (than I am) but have created times to publish articles or do something outside of their regular job demands frequently.

Having said this, I decided to retrospect on my experiences since August in this article.

I moved to the United States in August 2022, to begin a new life. Yes, a new life I would say because I got into a new system, a new program, a new prospective profession, a new culture, new colleagues, and the list goes on.

I came to the States to commence my doctoral program in Communication with a focus on health communication, a field I have always been passionate about, but have relatively little experience in and I am grateful to the University of Missouri and my department for this opportunity.

The last four months have been a roller coaster of experiences for me and I remember telling an individual how I am learning to learn, unlearn, and even live!

In the last few months, I have learned a few lessons and I thought it wise to share some of them for record purposes and most importantly aid someone in this process of perhaps migrating to a new system.

First, one of the first tips that I learned fast was to ask questions. Asking questions in class, amongst new friends, and at colloquium or any other event helped me navigate this system almost seamlessly. Although I consider myself a curious person, I have learned to ask questions intentionally and for the sake of my growth.

Asking questions is indeed not a sign of weakness but of strength and curiosity. Some studies have regarded it as the ultimate learning skill. In an article from Forbes, a questioning practice ”may improve students’ motivation, independent thinking, and the ability to communicate complex ideas”.

I recall one of my professors in one of my classes say that you should always ask questions when there is room for one even in a job interview. It depicts your interest and at a speaking event, it proves to the speaker that you listened earnestly.

Secondly, I love the diversity I met. I come from Nigeria, sit in classes, or rob minds with colleagues from China, Nepal, South Korea, Egypt, India, etc. How amazing and satisfying to hear their stories, cultural differences, and perspective on life. I am currently working on a project with a new colleague from China and I always cherish our mini think tank sessions; some of the ideas we both come up with cannot certainly be outsourced from me alone. This experience has taught me the importance of open-mindedness, and respect for other people’s perspectives for your and their progress sake.

Further, when I came, I discovered that I loved to talk about my culture, highlighting my difference (in an interesting way), and amazingly, people are always interested in my chronicle just as I love to listen to or experience theirs. Not sure I would ever have eaten Indian Chapati or Ghana jollof rice or worn thick clothing at all times during a particular season if I were not here.

I remember wearing an African print to teach a class. They loved it! And as an aside, I find myself using some of my country’s slang (e.g nawa oo, no wahala, etc.), which of course is not understood until I explain myself!

As I continue, I have learned in practical terms the importance of time management. There is a lot of work to be done and you can get it all done if you gain mastery of your time. It is as simple as that!

I appreciate a system that rewards genuine efforts and since I got here, I found it so. You put in the work, you get the result. I have even asked many students and faculty, and this is the same narrative- they have their results to show for their hard work.

Last but certainly not least, I have learned to smile more often, especially when I meet or pass by an individual I do not know. You just exchange smiles and keep moving. Not sure I practiced that back home.

*I hope to write about my experiences at the end of every semester.

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Abigail Oyinkan Olajire

A communication researcher with a keen interest in the media and developmental policies that has the propensity to spur growth.