Cognitive Dissonance

When I received my scholarship acceptance letter, I was in a state of utter disbelief. Don’t get me wrong, the William Jefferson Clinton Scholarship is a prestigious award. The award offers full-tuition, rooming, and allows visiting students to take courses (up to 12-16 credits) at the American University in Dubai (AUD) for a full academic semester. It’s an amazing opportunity without a doubt. However, I couldn’t stop myself from thinking about what I would be leaving behind if I were to study abroad. Not many know this, but prior to opening my acceptance letter, I felt that my collegiate experience at Morehouse College had finally come full circle.

Why was I in a state of utter disbelief? Because I was finally coming into my own and life threw a curveball I was not expecting. Everyone has had a moment in their life where everything starts to fall into place. Almost as if an imaginary lightbulb finally goes off after a long period of constant flickering. It seems my moment came twenty years too late. I have always been known as a late-bloomer but adjusting to campus life and the rigors of being a college student was a slow process.

Bittersweet is the term that can be used to describe the situation I was in. I knew that opportunities like this didn't come around often. I knew that studying abroad would be an exciting challenge with the potential to be life-changing. I also knew that my family and friends hated to see me go, but they fully supported me throughout the entire process. However, I could not shake the feeling that everything would be different when I returned. I was always told that change is a beautiful thing. But at that point in my life, I was trying so desperately to hold onto my fleeting stability. It was evident that I was suffering from cognitive dissonance, but ultimately, I knew what the right decision was.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned throughout my collegiate experience is that life is very unpredictable. If someone were to tell me that I would have been studying in Dubai for my spring semester I simply would not have believed them. But as I reminiscence, I realize that life presents us with opportunities and challenges that will define us in ways we cannot comprehend.

Looking back, I can honestly say that I was terrified. Between living 7,500 miles away from home, adapting to a new way of life, and starting university all over again, was overwhelming, to say the least. Now that I’ve been in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for over a month, I believe wholeheartedly that I’ve made the best decision of my life. Also, I finally realize that there is nothing wrong with change if it leads to growth, maturity, and clarity. I have the utmost faith that my study abroad experience will shape me into the person I ultimately want to become in the future.

By: Christian Navarro-King

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