I am an international student from Malaysia, a rising junior, a Psychology major, a Creative Writing and Literature major, a daughter who is thousands of miles away from her parents, and hopefully, a good friend and worker to those around me.
The University of Michigan does not make it easy for me to identify with at least two of the above. I cannot experience the intense sadness and loneliness that comes with being away from home simply because ‘everyone is away from home’. One of the most difficult days are the holidays. See, I can’t go home for the weekend because it takes me a whole weekend to get home.
Another thing that is difficult for me to identify as at the university is my position as an international student. Everyday I walk the fine line between familiarity and foreignness. How much is too much ‘outsider’? How little is too little individuality? Where does diversity end, and equality begin? If those are two completely different things, why do they all blend into the same grey area?
Being here at my internship, these personal and social identities are highlighted even more by the landscape of downtown Detroit. I am acutely aware of the differences in my upbringing while living with my American housemates. And by acutely I mean, my senses are acutely aware of the strong smells of stir-fry burying themselves into the living room carpet, or the undeniable orange residue of kimchi coating the plastic Tupperware that makes it so obviously MINE.
I am beginning to realise how difficult it is, to live unapologetically, as myself.