Being an international studying outside of my own country, I have learned to coexist with the suspension of where I would eventually go. I always think about futuristic stuff whenever I am on a flight, which is quite often for me. I wonder if it has anything to do with the speed of travelling.... it would be an interesting psych project to delve into! (I'm a psych major. I have no clue what is on your mind, anytime. MOST of the time instead of analyzing anyone I'm just trying to catch up with the flying conversations.)
1. Period of Chinese Flag
Born and raised in China for seventeen years, I was determined that I would come back after finishing college degree in the States. Chinese flag was flying with determination in my heart for about three years. After acculturation and adaptation, my values started shifting. It is interesting how western culture had become an inseparable part of my personalities. Before coming to the States, all of my values were built on Chinese values; but being exposed to American / western culture made me noticed that I had to make more conscious choices on what I think was the right thing to do, because my choices started to go against the social norm, which was when I realized that some parts of me was less of a decision but more of a legacy.
2. Period of American Flag
After three years of college, I have finally found myself a true American friend. I started to feel comfortable embracing western values, because I have someone to debate with for my confusions and judgements. Because I loved and respected her, western values stopped feeling so hard to swallow. I have noticed changes in me that I was pleasant to see: individualization, independence, adaptation, self-support, self-acceptance, etc. I started fearing going back to China because I know one environment breeds one set of values, and I like the new me a lot. I don't’ want to lose that identity. It is this time when American flag started flying in my mind and I decided to try to stay in the State. However, study abroad changed that flag pretty soon.
3. Period of British Flag
My decision of studying abroad in Edinburgh, UK was pretty much random. I decided to leave DePauw because I was tired of my campus and all attention to menial things that I didn’t think matter. After being accepted into the program, I was simply happy because I was going to the University of Edinburgh and I was going on an adventure to the UK, not because I anticipated the impact it would have in my life. Now I would say to anyone that study abroad is something you should just do if you have a chance, regardless of the amount of places you’ve visited or studied prior to that.The Britain was the first western civilization where I felt truly appreciated and received, without the help of a close friend. I don’t know if I was just surrounded by really nice people, it was just the right moment of westernization or that I identified with the the proper, mannered British culture, but I would proclaim that I would love to spend two to three years of my life in Britain after college, if I could.
4. Where's next?
Where should I go? Where do I feel most at ease? Paradoxically, Instead of trying to find one country that I identify the most, I have realised that I simply enjoy being an international the most - I have learned to be an observer, an outsider, a drifter, someone who is never at home - who is beyond any social norms because she/he doesn’t belong to any, and can always be critical and skeptical about her/his surroundings because she/he doesn’t owe the people and the place a duty of tolerance and education. It is quite a liberating position to be, and I don’t want to be domesticated by any country. I want to always be exploring, trying and being surprised… that’s what makes me feel satisfied, fulfilled and alive. So, next stop, 2 years in Britain? Europe? South Asia? Africa? They are all on the itinerary, I just need to make sure financial situation would allow me to do that. I am looking forward to start the exploration as soon as possible, before I get too comfortable settling in one place.