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2018 International Education Week Essay Contest: Second-Place Runner-Up

Thursday | November 15, 2018 | by WES Advisor

2018 IEW Essay Contest 2nd Place Runner-Up

To celebrate International Education Week 2018, WES Advisor asked readers to send submissions to our annual essay contest. Essay contest participants were instructed to write about their best piece of advice for prospective international students.

We received many excellent submissions, and we would like to thank everyone who participated in the contest!

Congratulations to our four winners: Anh Nguyen, Zenia Adiwijaya, Souvik Seal, and Vincent Igenoza.

You can read the second-place runner-up’s essay below, by Zenia Adiwijaya. Zenia, a native of Jakarta, Indonesia, studied abroad at Iowa State University.


A Life Chapter of an Author

Imagine your life as a book, which usually starts with an introduction, followed by chapters capturing whimsical adventures, and closed by an ending. As the sole author of your own life story, the experience of studying abroad can be categorized as an arduous yet beautiful journey written in one book chapter. Following a similar pattern–opening, content, and closing—here are three suggestions on how to design one of your life chapters as a prospective international student.

Start with a blank sheet of paper. The courageous decision of a student pursuing a degree abroad can be compared to the bold act of an author typing the first word on a blank piece of paper. There is a mixed spark of excitement, fear, and hope. Without a doubt, international students will encounter distinct cultures, be confronted with novel perspectives, and may possibly need to communicate in foreign languages. This requires audaciousness and the desire to leave one’s comfort zone to start a fresh adventure. The tools needed to start a new chapter are a willingness to be curious, open-minded, and again, dauntless.

Compose compelling content. Certainly, studying abroad will provide various opportunities to meet new friends, discover abundant knowledge, and learn new skills. On the other hand, there are potential offsets, such as becoming homesick, facing a language barrier, struggling through a rough adjustment, and taking challenging courses. Being aware of these drawbacks, a prospective student should not be afraid. Instead, a student can start to prepare and mitigate these risks by learning the local language and seeking the help of other international students.

Regardless of these difficulties, both positive and negative study abroad experiences will shape a more compelling life chapter. These experiences also equip an individual to be ready for the next life chapter following studying abroad.

Conclude with a meaningful ending. The end goal of any student is to graduate. As an author writing a book chapter, composing the last sentence is as significant as constructing the first sentence. By acknowledging the end goal, prospective students can frame this experience in a bigger picture, and at the same time, strategize their future game plan. Focusing on the ultimate goal will assist and remind international students to stay on track during the good and the bad times away from home.

In a nutshell, starting a journey as an international student is quite similar to writing a new chapter as an author. Both roles require the boldness to start a new adventure, the readiness to experience the ups and downs, and the eagerness to achieve the end goal. Last, but not least, here is my final piece of advice to all prospective international students: Take your pen, start writing, and enjoy every word of your journey.


Congratulations again to our 2018 International Education Week essay contest winners, and thank you to everyone who participated!

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WES Advisor is an initiative of World Education Services, a non-profit organization with over 45 years of experience in international education. We provide advice and resources for international students and skilled immigrants to help them make informed decisions about education, employment, immigration, and integration opportunities in the U.S. and Canada.