The art of life
As I was exercising in the gym I saw someone, a person of color, a color similar to my own, from a place that I belong to, the thought seemed exhilarating in a land quite unfamiliar to me. So as I’m about to leave the gym for I’m done for the day, I stop by to say hello. After an initial exchange of pleasantries and conversational small talk, I now know that she’s been in the area for more than a decade and that there are a number of people from our community in the area. As excited as I could be to hear that, in a moment I vicariously lived through moments of celebrating a culture my own, in a heartbeat. I instantly pitched that there’s a sizable portion of our community at the University I would love for us students to connect with the community. But my reverie was broken down by “We want nothing to do with them,” followed by the reasoning “If we want to celebrate our festivals, we go to Dallas.” Soon after this with some covertly worded statements I was made to realize, that she wasn’t looking to babysit a girl, as she even ‘refused to take up the responsibility of her niece, who was coming to the US to study pharmacy’, because girls these days “think differently and you don’t know.”
Now you must be wondering why I’m telling you all this, so let me tell you why. If you are anything like me that is empathetic, I would like to implore you to grow a thick skin, a very thick one indeed, if you are planning to study abroad. People whom you’d expect to be nice, sane and look out for you, because they belong the same country, state or community as you, you stand a high chance of being disappointed in them. Look you may have heard, people have pretty linear personalities, they’ll be nice to you as long as they have their own axe to grind at your expense, you’ll probably get a taste of it after you give up on all your cushions by choosing to grow out of your comfort zone, if you haven’t until know.
You will share a living space with people who have never travelled anywhere, have never shared a living space with someone, basically linear personalities, who cannot give up an iota of their nonchalant pampered passive-aggressive ways to accommodate someone else’s needs. You’ll have a real life experience of the virtual and instantaneous “friending” and “unfriending” that happens over at Facebook, because you have an opinion different than theirs. Though you may be surrounded by people much more mature in age than you don’t expect them to act mature at all.
In words of Maya Angelou “There’s nothing in this world more tragic than a young cynic, because you go from knowing nothing to believing nothing.” So how will you deal with this? You have two options either be cynical or you be you. No matter how much you dislike the situation you are in the truth of the matter is that you are living it and no one else can deal with it on your behalf. Don’t try and emulate the characteristics that you dislike on the pretext “That’s just how the world is.” You be the silver lining in someone else’s cloud. You help a fellow human when you see them in need, cause’ if someone mentions you and people go any version of “Damn, that person is such a nightmare,” there’s something you need to change something about yourself. Moreover, try to make the most out of your experiences by making friends within your immediate community and expanding out of your own. I’m sure you didn’t travel across the Atlantic to hang out with the same bunch of people you whose company you desperately wanted to escape. You come from another part of the world you have a different perspective to share and contribute to your immediate surrounding, so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise and don’t hold back.
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