I still remember the first time I sat in an American classroom – the students called the professor by her first name, students spoke in the classroom directly without any signal (raising their hands), one student challenged the other student’s idea… I sat there and didn’t know what should I react, plus my English was not that good.
I couldn’t catch up the back-and-forth conversations between the professor and students, so I thought I must have missed some key information. I tried to ask my classmate questions, he answered it very quickly. I thought, maybe my question was a commonsense to them. I felt that I was an outsider. I wanted to shirk, stay away from them as far as I can, because I looked so stupid. But another voice told me, if I don’t overcome it this time, I will never accomplish a thing in my life.
An old saying – where there’s a will there’s a way.
I started to manage my time carefully, because I need to double my time on study. I read all class materials, wrote down all the questions and ask professors in emails, grasped every chance to ask professors in person after class or in their office hours. The first few time when I asked professors question, they have to explain some of the questions twice to me. I still felt I was stupid when meeting professors, but I knew I was making progress.
Use every chance to prove myself.
Doing group projects is a great chance to improve my communication and teamwork skills, but the first time I was assigned to a team, I did’t feel good. There were two people signed up for magazine editing, and I was one of them. Each of us was assigned to one group. My teammates were disappointed when they saw me came to the group, and one of them said something to the other magazine editor that she tried to have her help with our team. I understood why they would think like that, and I knew what should I do to change their perception – show them the thing I accomplish, let the thing speak for me. After several weeks when our group met again, I could easily feel that they have changed their opinion towards my work and myself.
Now some of my strategies changed, but these two remain.