Don’t Let Your ‘Comfort Zone’ Become Your Prison

Yi Xu

Being active in college means constantly breaking out of my comfort zone.

As a foreigner who didn’t speak one complete English sentence during my first week in the United States, I bravely joined clubs with the aim of improving my speaking English and understanding American culture. I learned more than I expected.

2011-annapolisI attended the Maryland Student Legislature club — a mock legislature club similar to Model UN — starting in freshman year. In the club, students practice writing legislation and debating in Congress to make them law.

With meager knowledge of American politics, I didn’t know anything about legislation or Congress, and I didn’t talk during the club meetings for a long time. There was no other foreigner in the club.

Students were very friendly and the meetings were always interesting. We traveled together to colleges around Maryland and the State House in Annapolis. Within two years, I made great friends in the club and fell in love with Maryland–the great scenery, delicious food and wonderful people.

After I came back from studying abroad in Paris my junior year, I became an orientation leader for new freshman. It was the first time I became a student leader in college. I had to force myself to talk with students, introduce the school, and organize students for activities like ice-breakers. I had to practice at home for many times before I explained the games to the students.

10711088_10202998754425980_792743572218703350_nI made wonderful friendships and earned respect from new students. Since then, I’ve been active in the Student Government Association (SGA), earning more and  more responsibility.

Being involved in campus clubs and activities was not easy. It took courage. However, constantly breaking out of my comfort zone gave me a path to amazing  friendships, learning the culture, enhancing my writing and speaking abilities. They not only gave me enjoyable memories, but also prepared me for job opportunities that require writing and public speaking skills in English.

It is particularly true during your undergraduate years, because during graduate school, most international students tend to want to influence others with their own culture and world perspectives. So jump in, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, make good friends.

Yi Xu