The problem with change is that, sometimes, you have no idea what you’re getting yourself into.
When I was in high school, all I wanted was to go to college in the United States and be American. By the time senior year rolled around, it seemed like that prospect would become a reality because I was a soon-to-be freshman at Lehigh.
My freshman year finally rolled around and for a while, it was great. I had made great friends, my classes were really interesting and I had found something I really loved: writing. But there was always a vague feeling that something was missing.
I tried to ignore the feeling, but it kept getting stronger. As that feeling grew more and more, I felt as if there were a “disconnect” between my American friends and me. It wasn’t their fault, or even mine, but sometimes things would get lost in translation.
I wouldn’t know how to express some things in English and would get stuck trying to explain myself, or worse, just not express myself at all. More and more, I would find myself explaining things that were inherent to my culture and personality because they were strange to my friends. Every time, I just felt a little bit more out of place.
The feeling never really went away as my freshman year came to a close. But when my sophomore year started, there was a major difference: I was rooming with two people who were from my same culture.
It sounds like something I should have thought about before, but it never crossed my mind that what I was missing was people who inherently understood things about my culture.
As I started my sophomore year, I felt more balanced. I felt like I no longer had to try to be American because I realized that’s not what I am, and I never will be.
All I needed all that time was familiarity. And now that I have friends from my culture and from different ones, it’s as if I can finally just be myself. And I no longer feel out of place when my American friends don’t understand things because there are people who do.
I had no idea that wanting to be American would be something that would make me feel so out of place. But that’s what happens with change. Most times, you have no idea what it really entails, so you adapt accordingly as you go along.
Many students may not have found “where they belong” when freshman year ends. And that’s okay because, as I have experienced myself, sometimes you find where you are supposed to or want to be, further along in your Lehigh career. It seems like everybody has found their place, but you never know who might be struggling to fit in.
Change is funny. You might think you want something completely different from what you currently experience, and then when you get it, you realize you miss your old life.
As they say, “the grass is always greener on the other side.”