Sometimes, when we make decisions in life we never really know how much that decision will affect our lives and our identity and this is certainly true in the case of my choosing which college to attend.
One of the factors that helped me to decide to come to Mount Holyoke was the fact that I knew that an employer would be more likely to employ me if I were a graduate of a prestigious American College such as Mount Holyoke. I knew that the curriculum in my home country was mush more difficult but my aim was to establish my self so as to be more “marketable”. I guess that without realizing it, I was already inclined to think in terms of the Neo-Classical theory which states that one can excel in life if one has the skills which would ultimately lead to the best possible of all worlds. If one does not have the skills then that person gets paid poorly. Now, looking back, I realize that I did not even stop to think that in effect I was being very selfish. I was not thinking about how this would affect not only my family but also my country since every year almost all the top students of our nation go to higher education institutions in the U.S. I relate this aspect of my life to It’s a Wonderful Life. Like Potter, I wanted to have the best possible outcomes of all situations even if it meant that I would damage the lives of the other people around me. Potter tried to get rid of the Buildings and Loans which he knew that the people of Baker’s Field needed in order to have their own homes, but he was concerned for himself so did not care.
I knew that immersing myself in a completely different culture would be different since I had never been outside the U.S. before then but what I did not expect was that all of my values and beliefs would be challenged. I relate this to the movie Mississippi Massala. If Jake had remained in India, it seems unlikely that Meena could ever challenge his belief that interracial dating not “ allowed” because then Meena herself would have probably been conditioned to think the same way.
In my own life, of course, I had to adapt to the weather and being away from family and friends but those changes were the easiest ones to make. I had to adjust to a society that was much more liberal in terms of the number of options that one had and could make to determine his / her future. Back home, you either had 2 options, you could go to university, and get a “good” job or don’t go and spend the rest of your life doing manual labor. Even then the choices that one had in higher education were limited to teacher, nurse, doctor, etc-.
One aspect of my life that was severely affected was religion. I started to wonder how important religion was to my life. I have been cultured to think that religion was one of the most important aspect of ones life namely Protestant. Then, I came here and it was as if Christianity was a bad thing especially if you are Protestant. The only type of Christianity that I see that is recognized here is Catholic and even then this is almost completely different to what I was used to (by the way, I am not sure if catholic is considered as a Christianity here).
The other aspect that I had to adjust to was the fact that before now, I was never exposed to same sex relationships.
If anything, I must say that being at Mount Holyoke has been a tremendous learning experience for me .It has force me to clearly define my values and beliefs. Of course there are many aspects of my personality that have changed but they are quite miniscule, at least in my opinion. The real challenge that awaits me is that when I go home how will readapt to a society that is much more conservative than what I am now used to? Will changes in my personality be miniscule to the other people around me ? I do not know, I guess I will find out sooner of later.
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