Erin planeBy Erin D’Amelio
By the time you read this article, I’ll be on a plane to Hong Kong, or maybe on my layover… I still haven’t really figured out this whole time difference thing. The only guarantee here is that I’ll be exhausted. So, this will be the final article before I actually begin my adventures in Malaysia. Let’s talk about some expectations.

First, let me just say that I separate my goals from my expectations. Goals are more specific, whereas expectations are strong beliefs that something will happen in the future. I have plenty of goals, like experiencing Thaipusam and visiting at least three other countries outside of Malaysia… Expectations though? I’ll be honest: I haven’t thought much about my expectations for this trip. It seemed strange to me, to come up with a list of predictions for an experience that is completely foreign to me, that I never invested much energy into it. There always exists the reality that no matter how much I prepare, I will be unprepared for my adventure in Malaysia. It makes sense: I will be entering a country and a culture that I’ve no previous experience with, despite my research on both. There’s no way for me to know what will happen until I actually go there. That futility pretty much impeded my motivation to think about my expectations.

But I suppose there are a couple of expectations to reveal, if I dedicate a couple of minutes to thinking about them. Unfortunately, they’re pretty vague. Overall, here are what I believe will happen while I’m abroad:

*I will be challenged in every sense of the word. What with the language barrier, the culture shock, and every unpredictable aspect about Malaysia and this program, I will learn how I react to and handle these situations.
*I will learn about myself. Though it ties into the first expectation, this assumption really gets at the heart of this program and why I’m doing it. It’s an opportunity to expose myself to a new world, a new way of thinking, new people and new perspectives. They will undoubtedly inform my worldview, and hopefully I will continue seeing their impact when I’m well into my old age.
*I will learn how cultures interact. As an American working with and living amongst Malaysians, I have a great front seat to observing the ways in which different cultures conduct themselves and what happens when an outsider enters the scene. I anticipate mostly positive interactions, but there may be some not-so-positive ones. Both are fascinating educational opportunities.

You can sense the themes here: challenges and learning. That is truly what I expect to do, to learn and be challenged, just manifested in a variety of ways. I am so incredibly excited for this chance to become not only a better person, but also a global citizen bringing attention to cultures and celebrating their uniqueness. I can’t wait until my feet land in Malaysia and see if those expectations actually come true.

My name is Erin D’Amelio and I’m going to Malaysia for ten months as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant. Over the next 10 months I will be submitting regular journal entries of this incredible adventure, documenting my thoughts and experiences. The views and beliefs I will present in these articles are my own; they do not reflect those of the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State. Below are the articles, in order of publication. Just click on any link and continue the journey with me.
An Unforgettable Journey

How Does One Get a Fulbright, Exactly?
And Then We Wait
Sensory Overload