This I Believe

Anan - Charlotte, North Carolina
Entered on October 29, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: change
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Growth Through Change

I believe change promotes one’s wisdom and makes people stronger. My life has been through many changes in the past five years. First, I moved from China to Europe, and then I moved from Europe to America. These moves have allowed me to experience diverse cultures, meet many different people, and to see many beautiful countries.

I have to admit that change is not fun, not easy, and it can sometimes make life miserable. For example, adapting to a different language is one of the most difficult elements of moving to a new country. I went to Belgium when I was seventeen. Two days after arriving in Belgium, I went to a Dutch language high school. It had a special program for students who did not know Dutch. I had to be under 18 in order to get into the program. I was lucky, because I was only seventeen at the time. However, this made me, by far, the oldest student in the class. The school was gorgeous, and it looked just like a castle in Disneyland. The building was so large that I was always lost. The teachers were nice, but they used Dutch to teach me how to speak Dutch. Therefore, I understood nothing at first. My classmates were friendly, but most of them were ten years old. None of them spoke my native language. Therefore, I could not communicate with them. How fun it was! I could not understand a single word in class, and I had no friends. Being older, no one wanted to make friends with a “fossil” like me who could not speak his or her language. I struggled for awhile, but later on, I told myself that I could improve this situation if I made an effort to get my life “on track.” Therefore, I studied hard in my Dutch class, and I tried to talk to everybody in Dutch. After six months, I could speak and write basic Dutch and had friends to keep me company.

There were also many other culture shocks I encountered, including different living styles and Belgian food. However, I saw and learned many new things as well. I traveled with my family and got to see the Jungfrau Mountain in Switzerland; its size amazed me. I went to the Uffizi gallery in Florence to see wonderful paintings from the ancient world. I went to Spain where I experienced its amazing culture and drank some of the country’s famous Sangria. I went to England where I had fish and chips, and finally I went to Rome where I discovered my favorite place: the Fontana di Trevi, where all my wishes came true.

There is an old saying in China, “Traveling is more eye opening than reading.” I believe that the changes I have been through in the past few years have made me stronger and given me more knowledge than I could ever have gotten by reading a book. Therefore, I am no longer afraid of change; I know that it can enrich my life.