(6) Becoming an art student

My storyTomoko Maruyama2 Comments

I started my college life as an art student in a small university in New Jersey. The main reason I chose to go there was its combination of a small class size and a very good program for international students like me.

On the one hand, it was very hard to follow the lectures initially. Before I even considered improving my design skills by attending design lectures, I needed to improve my English. So I took extra English classes and I tried to speak with as many students as I could. I had thought that my English level was appropriate considering that I was able to communicate appropriately when I traveled abroad. However, I realized that my English level was not OK when I had to deal with real life situations in the U.S. Thus, I started recording lectures, I would go back to my room and played the recordings over and over until I understood. Very often, I just couldn’t understand most of the dialog and I became so frustrated. Finally, I decided to ask if the school could help me with tutoring sessions. In addition, several teachers spent time with me to help me with the lectures after each class. I had expected the journey not be easy but this was way more difficult than what I had expected. I was overwhelmed by everything that I was missing due to my lack of proper English. I couldn't stop crying everyday out of frustration and but I realized that crying was not very helpful. Instead, I kept reaching out to many people around me and many of them helped and supported me through this period. I really appreciated their warmth and friendship. 

On the other hand, I loved to explore New York City. I took a bus to Manhattan almost every weekend. I liked to go to art galleries in the SoHo district and museums in the city. I especially liked to go to the Museum of Modern Art in Midtown Manhattan. Every time I went there, I spent quite a long time at their gift shop as I loved Zakka items. Everything they used to carry was so cool, clean and stylish. This is where I started seeing my career a few years down the road. I imagined that my work would be sold at museum shops and I was convinced that it was not going to be a dream but a real goal. I had made a decision.

Even though my first year of college was tough due to the new language and culture, the fact of being there gave me tons of motivation to move forward with my career choice. I decided to create a strong path and a plan to develop my second career in the U.S. I had finally found what I liked to do and I was there to make it a reality.