fredag 26 februari 2010

To transfer or not, that's the question...

When I was in AIESEC last year, my fellow AIESECers taught me all about culture shock.

Typically, the culture shock is represented by a U-curve: when someone arrives in a new environment, he/she will be amazed by basically, everything new. This is the honeymoon period that usually lasts a week to a month, depending on the person. The initial high is followed by a downward spiral, when the person encounters difficulties adjusting to the new home. At its worst, the bottom of this emotional fall reaches an abyss. Some call it homesick, others short-termed depression. However, as long as you hold yourself out of this pitfall, everything will be fine again. This signifies the time when the person adapts to the culture and knows how to get his/her way through.

My last semester looked like this U-curve. The first month of excitement of coming to Cornell ended in a depressed state where homework, social pressure, declining weather and the thought that most of my exchange student friends were leaving sent my mood to a record-low. Initially when I knew few people here, the lack of social activities affected my academic performance. I can be either sociable and get good grades, or getting neither. US is not what I expected it to be. When Jonas told me about his wonderful life in Cornell a year before, I believed him. As it turns out, what worked for a Swedish version of Brad Pitt doesn't necessarily work for me. The neediness of getting to know people never works in your favor. You've gotta play cool even when you can't.

This semester, I'm working in a lab, taking classes I'm really interested in, got a bunch of good friends, so I'm out of the hell. Cornell is becoming my reality. These days I just can't imagine living in Sweden again. The same thing happened when I first went to Sweden. Getting too attached to your new habitat means you forget your old home. Last year before coming to Cornell, I felt I was leaving Sweden and get a brand new start stateside. Right after coming here, I felt I was on the way of leaving again. Being a modern day nomad sucks.

So, the shocking news is: I'm considering the possibility of transferring to Cornell, stay here for another year and graduate in 2011. Since I don't want to let you down, I'm not saying I'm transferring, and I won't promise anyone anything. Yesterday I talked to Christine Potter, my exchange advisor. She said I need to take 36 credits next year and fulfill the graduation requirements. I have to figure out the latter with the faculty advisor. If I transfer I can put my home degree on hold, transferring Cornell classes back, write a thesis and get the Swedish M.S. There's nothing to lose. As for financial aid and stipend, there's no answer right now. My full tuition will be 37k USD a year. I never asked my parents' for money since 19, and I'm not gonna let them pay my tuition. If there is no scholarship, not even a token financial aid then screw it. I'm not staying. The application deadline is March 15th. Whatever is gonna happen next year will be decided.

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