The struggle to define yourself, and to decide how much your definition of self is in relation to others, is something everyone goes through in college. But when you’re struggling to define yourself within another culture, as Qian has, it takes on a whole other dimension.
Waking from an alcoholic stupor after a party and walking in 5-inch-heels with my friends in the empty streets of Hong Kong at 3:00 am, I kept asking myself again and again, “Is this the life you want? If yes, why did you feel uncomfortable? If no, why do you have to continue this lifestyle you don’t actually enjoy?”
(Also make sure to take a look at Tara’s thoughts about dating in America, the “relationship talk,” and the fascinating differences in Chinese and American attitudes towards relationships)
When being in America means redefining what it means to be “beautiful” and “healthy.” Senzeni explores the obsession with weight in America, and back home in Zimbabwe.
During my freshman year, I watched with undisguised fascination as my friends would eat not to fill their stomachs, but to ensure that they had just barely met their daily calorie requirement. I also remember, vividly, watching helplessly as my American roommate’s face clouded over when I “complimented” her that she had gained weight (as you may have guessed, in America this is not a compliment).
3. Three perspectives on the meaning of “home”
Okay, I know this is cheating a bit, but Sebastian, Qian, and Olena each had SUCH unique perspectives on going home for the first time after spending months in America. Does living abroad mean changing your definition of home? Three different people gave three very different answers.
If I were to talk about the differences between Kansas and Santa Cruz I could write pages and pages about it, but here I’d rather say that those differences don’t seem to affect me anymore, whichever place I’m in.
I had this weird feeling of belonging and at the same time not belonging to the place, which is my home country, for at least my first two weeks back. Almost nothing had changed in Ukraine, but after staying abroad for almost a year and a half my perception of many things changed…
I have a 9-year-old cousin, once my sweetest little angel, who I watched grow up. This winter when I went back to Chengdu, I bought her several child-size-10 dresses as Christmas gifts. However, as soon as I met her at the airport, I realized those dresses were too small for her; she was already in 5th grade and in the year since I’d seen her had grown to almost five feet tall!
Alex tells the story of his friend Diana, who faced a series of medical school rejections but kept fighting for her dream of working in medicine. If this doesn’t inspire you to work towards your dreams, nothing will.
I was one of those inspired by her journey. Hearing her story led me to reflect on my own life. I realized that I have been holding on to so much and in effect it was holding me back. I wasn’t moving forward. Diana inspired me to say two things that I needed to hear myself say:
Dear past… thanks for all the lessons! Dear future… I’m ready!
Is being left-handed something to be frowned upon, or just a difference like having blue eyes instead of brown? Are people with disabilities just as capable as the rest of us? Dandan struggles through those questions, and meets a professor who changes her perspective, in this fascinating piece.
My professors do their daily writing with their left hands. Unbelievable. They are not lunatics, but professors! My classmates do everything in their daily life with their left hands. Unbelievable. They are not lunatics, but incredibly talented people, as I’ve seen during in-class discussions, after-class group projects and many other activities!
Bonus: I didn’t include this in my list because it got a shout out in yesterday’s post of the most read items of the year, but you should read Simba’s post about facing down negative stereotypes about Africans: On Being an African in the US: Navigating an Endless Web of Stereotypes