Lidia Sanduleac: “I see success not the peak of the mountain but the whole path to it”
Leaving your home in order to develop your personality and build a career it isn’t that easy as some would think. Many smart Moldovan students choose to study abroad every year. It might be considered both a good and a bad thing. It’s good because these students become our ambassadors over the borders, and it’s bad because some of those choose to stay there and never come back to develop their country.
The students which travel to other countries have to adjust to a new culture, a new system and learn a new language, which most of the time isn’t that easy. It is the case of Lidia Sanduleac, a Moldovan student from Ungheni town who has gathered two experiences of this kind. In 2008 she was already studying in the United States of America as an exchange student. After one year, she returned to her homeland and finished high school. In 2011 she accepted another challenge. She studies in China for the next four years.
Lidia agreed to give an interview exclusively to Moldova.ORG talking about her experiences oversees and what is the key to success.
Moldova.ORG: You have previously studied for one year in the United States. How would you describe this experience?
Lidia Sanduleac: I was one of the luckiest people to be accepted and benefit of the FLEX scholarship. I can firmly state the cliché that it was one of the best experiences in my life which opened new doors that changed me completely. My experience was one of a kind. I was a very creative person, full of ideas but for some reason I was having a barrier to show everything that I have got, I have never taken the initiative to work on my self development. The US experience gave me the opportunity to explode, to start to express myself and shout out loud all my ideas, all my long-mould projects. And the most important thing is that I was inspired, motivated and I was hosted by a wonderful host family with which I am bounded for life, I still keep in touch with them and I still call them “mom, sister, brother”. I understood that I was born to be an exchange student because when I got home I felt useful for my society and this is grace to my US experience where everyone is feeling in duty to help each other. A part of my soul will always remain in the USA, Missouri, St Joseph.
Moldova.ORG: After you returned home, you began to organize social and cultural events. What has determined you to do such things?
Lidia Sanduleac: I remember the time when during our pre-departure orientation our teachers and assistants told us that the true experience, that the roots of our US life are going to spring after we get back home. I started with looking at our society with different eyes, with realizing that I have become a different person, a person that my town, my country needed. Therefore, first I joined activities organized by people and after that I started to organize projects, activities, to form clubs and NGOs on my own. I realized that it was my thing, that it was the work for what I could not sleep nights and sacrifice my entire spare time. I saw beautiful smiles provoked by the creative ideas that I have implemented, that is exactly that determined me everyday to keep on organizing social and cultural events. A lot of students got really interested in these kind of “new fashion”- volunteering and that made me really proud of my society, of the generation that is growing. There is a quote that says that “my dad always tells me to find a job that I like and I will never work a day in my life”. Volunteering was the pleasure for my high school years and I think it will remain as a life long pleasure.
Moldova.ORG: You have graduated from a Moldovan high school and now you’re majoring in International Relations in China. Why did you take the decision to study there and didn’t go back to the US?
Lidia Sanduleac: Every step of my life I like to live it in a different environment, to try different things, to challenge myself and experience new countries. Initially, when I got back from the USA, like any other exchange student, I passed through a severe reverse cultural shock and I was thinking and getting ready to do anything that I could do to go back. After getting involved in different activities back home and starting to participate at different seminars and trainings, to interact with people from all over the world I realized that life is too short to stagnate or to miss a chance of a lifetime. I got accepted at a university in Paris (Universite de Versailles), I got offers from Norway, I applied for scholarships in China, Russia and there were still alternatives to start my studies in Moldova or in Romania. Deep in my heart I was always thinking about my scholarship in China; I got the answers and the acceptance to other universities before I got the one from China, but I wasn’t that happy. Now I realize that this was actually what Ii wanted to achieve and I wanted to try. And here I am, being happy where I am, by whom I am surrounded and with what I am doing. Though, I know for sure that my life will not be linked with China, because, again, I am a vey unforeseeable person, with a very dynamic personality and I want to explore more and more and I will never hesitate to get back in the USA to see my host family, friends, to walk on the streets of my host-town.
Moldova.ORG: How different is the life in China than the one in Moldova? Tell me some strong and weak points of each nation.
Lidia Sanduleac: Moldovan and Chinese people are very friendly. Both nations have the cult of friendship. Of course there are similarities and differences. Moldovans are calmer, more prudent in the daily life. From the other side, Chinese are very dynamic, super-unforeseeable and full of energy. They do not pay attention to plan activities before head, they execute things on place. The students are very conscious, studious, and very intelligent. While interacting with them, we, the foreigners, they are very modest and very sincere, their behavior lacks of envy, arrogance, vanity and over exaggerated pride even though they have what to be proud of. They work very hard, harder than us; they can work in night shifts to wonder the world with the sky scrapers that they build in a record time. With all of these being stated, I am still not in fond of their style of wearing clothes. Sometimes I think that they don’t have any esthetical taste. And sometimes I miss the “exaggerated Moldovan glamour”. They do not pay attention to traffic rules and that’s why I am so afraid to ride a taxi or a bus there.
Moldova.ORG: How difficult was it to adjust to such a different society, with such a difficult language?
Lidia Sanduleac: Having the previous experience in the USA and the past interaction with a lot of people I can state that this helped me a lot to cope easily with the adjustment problem. It wasn’t that difficult to pass through the adjustment period because I have already changed the environments previously. It was hard to see a lot of people everyday; it was tiring to hear a lot of people speaking a language I couldn’t understand. But personally, I didn’t have any problems, obstacles to get integrated in Chinese lifestyle, culture, to eat Chinese food and make Chinese friends. Chinese people are so friendly and they are always there to help the “western faces” as they call us.
Moldova.ORG: How proficient were you in Chinese before you arrived there?
Lidia Sanduleac: I remember now as it was a dream, my first arrival at the International Beijing Airport and how suddenly all these Chinese characters popped up in my face. I was shocked, I was stoned and I was put in a balance that was more turning to the decision to come back home. All the Asian faces, Chinese characters; at the Information Desk I was answered in an English with a deep Chinese accent that I could barely understand. And talking about my proficiency in Chinese, my language knowledge were limited to "hello-ni hao" and "xie xie - thank you". It was a big challenge, but with a lot of hard work, patience, strength and sleepless nights, now I can communicate with Chinese people at a conversation level (level 3). In March, I am obliged to pass HSK 4 (something like a TOEFL, GMAT test) and in June HSK 5. It is indeed very hard language to be learned and it doesn’t make sense at all if translated to any other language, especially the grammar rules.
Moldova.ORG: What are your long term goals? What do you want to do after you graduate from your Chinese university?
Lidia Sanduleac: China is giving us big offers. Everyday can give you wonderful opportunities, therefore I am afraid to say what I am going to do in the next years. Of course, I have sturdy plans, but being an “opportunity chaser” and knowing that this world is too wonderful to remain unexplored by me I know that my future is preparing nice surprises for me. I am absolutely fascinated by languages and the ability to build relationships and get to know and collaborate with wonderful, powerful people. I still have five years to learn Chinese. After I graduate I want to learn Arabic language and study a master degree in a country where it is spoken Arabic. I also want to study a degree in Russia. All of these studying, every step that I am making in my life is towards my biggest dream which is to become an ambassador.
Moldova.ORG: What is the key to success from your perspective?
Lidia Sanduleac: Success is one of the primordial dreams in a person's life. But I don't see the success as a dream, I see it as an ambition, as a plan, I see success not the peak of the mountain but the whole path to it. For me the success is when my dad is saying "good job, my daughter" and my mom is crying with tears of happiness. I am a very auto critical and a perfectionist person therefore most of the times even though I achieve a success I consider it as a good result. When we set high expectations, long term goals and when we reach them at a point in our life, then I consider it as a great success. It is something that gives you confidence to go forward. It is like a drug, once achieved you want more and more. To be focused, dedicated, determined and have the desire to do something is the key to succeed in every purpose we have set and have a serious attitude towards everything we hope for.