To celebrate International Education Week 2017, WES Advisor asked readers to send submissions to our annual essay contest.
This year’s prompt was inspired by a quote from St. Augustine:
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
We asked readers to describe in their essays how studying abroad has enriched their lives and expanded their worldviews.
We received a number of excellent submissions, with many of the essays describing positive, eye-opening experiences that emphasized the transformative power of studying abroad. We would like to thank everyone who participated in the contest!
Congratulations to our four winners: Olufemi Erinoso, Chiemeka Donald Ewulu, Ikenna Mbakwe, and Trishnee Bhurosy.
Below, read the essay from our third-place runner-up: Ikenna Mbakwe.
Ikenna is a native of Nigeria who currently lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. She uses online platforms to study Geographic Information Systems.
How Studying Abroad Expanded My Worldview
The sound of computer mouses punctuated the serene hush as I walked into the study section of the city’s main library. The room was huge and well-lit. Several paintings hung from strategic points on the blue-colored wall. In a corner of the room, there were rows of shelves with hundreds of books. The place was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop were it not for the soft carpet that covered the entire floor. I tip-toed to one end of the shelves and began browsing for interesting titles.
As a Geographic Information System (GIS) student, I usually studied online, but once in a while, I visited the library to absorb the reading community. I stopped at a book of quotations. I’ve always loved to read famous quotes. I pulled the book off the shelf and found my favorite sitting spot, close to the windows and away from the air-conditioning. I flipped to the first page. “The world is a book…”
“Hey, is this seat taken?” a lady interrupted, pointing to the seat next to mine.
She looked Asian, middle-aged. Her hair and forehead were completely covered in a blue silk scarf.
“No,” I said, “please, make yourself comfortable.”
“My name is Anna,” she said, offering her hand.
For a second, I was taken aback. As far as I knew, women wearing this kind of scarf do not extend their hand for a handshake with a male stranger. I shook her hand quickly as she sat down.
“Which country are you from? Africa?” she asked as she began to boot up her laptop.
I smiled. “I am Nigerian,” I said, wondering how many more people think Africa is one country. “I’m fairly new in Canada. I’ve been here about a year.”
“Oh, I see. Have you heard of the Nigerian Mafia?” She chuckled, trying to sound humorous.
I smiled politely, resisting an urge to launch into a five-minute lecture on how many Nigerians have made the world a better place.
“What are you studying?” I asked, trying to change the subject.
“I’m studying to be a mechanic.”
“What? Is that not a job for men?” I blurted out as I recalled my impression of mechanics while growing up in my hometown. They were always covered in grease from head to toe, and they were always men.
“No,” she said, with a slight rolling of her eyes, and then turned to face her laptop monitor.
I shook my head in bewilderment as I went back to my reading: “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” –St. Augustine.
How true, I thought, as I continued to flip through the pages.
Congratulations again to our 2017 essay contest winners and thank you to everyone who participated!
Be sure to stay tuned the blog, as we will publish the essay contest 1st and 2nd place winners tomorrow!
Are you interested in writing articles about your study abroad experience in the U.S. or Canada for the WES Advisor blog? Sign up for our WES Ambassador Program.