Study abroad fosters friendships, possibility

Eric Ariel Salas

Eric Ariel Salas

The start of the new year means the start of a new semester. Over the past days, I bumped into a number of new international students who moved aimlessly around the residential hall and the GIS department, sporting the one unique appearance you’d never mistake for something else. OK, save your breath, I had the same look when I came here last semester – tolerantly apprehensive, conscience-stricken and bugged up.

Not counting the predestined academic catechisms, the infrequent chat I had with some American friends, would, most of the time, lead to the proverbial question of “Why do I have to study abroad?”

Fact no. 1: I am from the Philippines, a developing country (From now on, I won’t be using “third-world” to describe the current overall situation of my motherland. A friend suggested it is better not to label nations with numbers that associate unintentional negative connotations).

Fact no. 2: Obtaining a degree abroad is like winning a lottery, or, in the case of the showbiz-oriented Philippines, it is like winning the best actor award – private institutions, as well as government agencies, will line up to get you for an interview. In a developing country where there are not enough technology and resources that could support 24-carat ideas, the only way to move forward and fulfill your dreams is to study abroad.

During the two years I spent on my master’s degree in Europe, foreign students shared the same thoughts as mine vis-