5 Things I've Realized Since Moving To The States

5 Things I've Realized Since Moving To The States

Some of the stark differences between the United States and my home a few thousand miles away.
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By the time this article comes out, I will have been in Minnesota (and the United States) for four months. It is a long way away from my home in India. I have had one of the best times because of the people I have met and the things I have learned about science and life in general. I can't be more thankful for the experience. Here are five things I've realized since coming to Minnesota.

1. It's not that difficult to start a conversation.

Before coming to the U.S., I had heard stories about strangers on the street who would make your day with some of the kindest gestures. One night, I was walking from school to my apartment at 11:00 p.m. There were two men walking in front of me talking about their finals. Suddenly they turn to me and ask, “How are the finals treating you?” We talked for about two minutes and then went our own way, wishing each other good luck on the upcoming exams. The barrier for starting a conversation is quite low here compared to most Asian nations.

2. It doesn't cost you anything to be nice to people.

Seriously. This is something I have learned from the people here. Or maybe it’s just the phenomenon of "Minnesota Nice." All of my bus rides have started with a huge grin from the driver, which makes my day. My trip to Target is actually a happy one, as the cashiers there also make my day. So does my advisor, with a smiling face regardless of how shitty my idea or work is!

3. Being on time doesn't hurt anyone, it actually helps! Surprise!

Classes start on time, so do presentations and meetings. And people are where they said they would be at a particular time. The only reason anyone has been remotely late is due to heavy snow and traffic. That’s it. Being on time is something I appreciate very deeply as you show respect for someone else’s time.

4. University of Minnesota students value their studies.

Though high tuition fees might motivate you to study, I have found that many people here are passionate about their work. There is nothing worse than people whining about what they are doing with their lives while studying something completely unrelated to their interests.

5. Saying no is not a crime.

In most Asian countries (or maybe it's just an Indian thing), people don’t usually directly say "No." They usually say things like, "I will try to do that," "I may be able to do that," and convoluted versions of this same phrase. They will later regret not saying no to something in the first place. If is hard to disappoint and even harder to ask for what you want or need. Here, your opinion is at least respected and no one will force you to do something you don’t want to and hold it over your head.

Cover Image Credit: Wordpress

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My Problem With The Mom In 'Lady Bird'

Growing up takes time.
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SPOILERS AHEAD, BUT IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY SEEN IT WHY ARE YOU READING THIS?

Now reader, you amazing, wonderful reader, I ask you to put aside the intense (and natural) rage that you feel towards me for having put the words “problem” and “Lady Bird” in the same sentence. Now, look me in the eyes as I say this: I LOVE "Lady Bird." We all love "Lady Bird!" It’s a fantastic movie, it captures some aspects of growing up that I didn’t even know I had experienced, it conveys the awe and the horrors we start to feel towards the world as we start to really understand our parts in it.

That scene at the end, when the titular character Lady Bird (now Christine) calls her home to tell her mom about the emotion she felt when she finally drove through her old town; I felt that too. This movie undoubtedly understands youth; what it doesn’t understand is the relationship between parent and child as that youth comes to an end.

If you’ve seen the movie, you’re familiar with the relationship between Lady Bird and her mother. There are moments of pure and utter truth in there. But what bothers me is the fact that despite the terrible things said and done by both Lady Bird and her mom, in the end it is Lady Bird that is left with the weight of reconciling with her mother even though her mom is at fault, and she does it. She calls home. She calls herself Christine again, she cries at church thinking of her home. After her mom hadn’t talked to her for weeks, she just goes and forgives her without a second thought. And why? Because they’re mother and daughter? Is that the message you want to believe in?

I think there’s a lot of affordances being made for the mother, and I don’t appreciate how we’re basically told that even though the mom is passive aggressive, belligerent, and demeaning, we need to excuse that because she doesn’t know how to communicate well and she’s worried about her mistakes. Lady Bird’s mom never directly shows Lady Bird how she loves her, and it’s clear there is some sort of affection between the two, but it’s a love shown through material things like money and clothing, essentials of course, but clearly not what Lady Bird needs.

I’m not saying that I think it’s impossible for Lady Bird and her mother to ever be on good terms again. What I’m saying is, that reconciliation takes time, and a whole lot of effort on both of their parts to see each other differently. It doesn’t come within the first week of leaving for college (when your mom refused to even walk into the airport with you), despite any of our romantic notions about university life I think we can all agree that real change has been a slow and grinding process, full of periods of growth and stagnation, but never quick. Growing up takes time, and I don’t know if "Lady Bird" did that justice.

Cover Image Credit: Crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos). Photo © (OvO) / Flickr through a Creative Commons license

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Dear Life

I Love You, And I Am So Thankful And Blessed.
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I'm 23 years old. I am in my second semester of my Junior year of college. I started my college journey a little later than most of my friends and peers. This upcoming fall, I'll be headed into my Senior year of undergrad, and hopefully getting a jump start on my first year of grad school. I live at home with my parents and sister and I have two part time jobs. If all goes as planned, I will have my bachelors degree in May of 2019, and my masters degree in May of 2020.

I have wanted to write this article for a long time. This isn't to brag about me or where I am. This is about the journey I am on and how unbelievably happy I am in my life. Right now I'm a busy person and I have a lot on my plate. 18 credits, working 20+ hours a week, writing for odyssey, and trying to manage a social life. I'm a busy lady. Someone asked me one time how I handle being busy all the time, my response was that "I was born busy."

For as long as I can remember I have been busy. I played two sports growing up, went to CCD classes (church related), I was a girl scout, and I have a huge family that hosts functions almost every weekend. Oh, and I went to school five days a week too. When I graduated high school I worked three jobs totaling 80 hours a week sometimes. I can't handle not being busy, this is the only life I've known.

As happy as I am with where I am in my life, it's hard not to feel a little stuck. Your early twenties is such a weird time. You're trying to be an adult but you still feel like you're 17 years old. You're just hoping that everything will sort itself out eventually. I see friends that I grew up with getting married and having kids and I quickly forget that these are the milestones we start to hit at this stage in life.

Let me talk about my friends for a minute. I love to brag about my friends. Graduating college, buying houses, moving out, moving out of state, getting really good jobs. I am so proud. Words truly cannot describe how proud I am. When you grow up with someone and you get to go through life together, it's the best feeling to watch them get everything they deserve. I also think it's so amazing that I can look at each one of my close friends and tell a different story. Not one of us chose the same path. Some of us had really great jobs right out of high school, others went straight to a 4 year university. Some of us went to community college or didn't go to school at all. Some of us have college degrees and others are still working on them. I love having a supportive group of people who understand my path and my busy life. It reminds me that although I feel a little behind, I'm not alone.

I don't know if we'll all ever feel fully complete or satisfied with where we are in life. But I don't think that feeling is necessarily a bad thing. If we never feel truly satisfied then we're always going to be striving for more. I know that I have a lot of living to do, but I am so thankful that I learned to start appreciating the journey.

It is so easy to get down on ourselves for not doing something. Should we have studied harder? Worked harder? Eaten healthier and exercised more? Probably. But we also got to sleep in a little longer, saw a movie with our friends, and go shopping at the mall. I think that learning focusing on the process rather than the end goal has been a life saver for me. I still get stressed, I still procrastinate, and I still get overwhelmed but I'd rather be tired and enjoying life than not.

So this is my letter to life. I love you and I am so thankful and blessed. I am also thankful that I learned how to take time and reflect on where I am. It's so important to remember to breathe when you're going through a rough patch. I think that we often forget that we're human and nothing is ever going to be perfect. We have to stop being to hard on ourselves. The best thing I ever did was learning to stop caring so much about the outcome and enjoy getting there.

I am so proud of myself, my friends, and my family. If you're not incredibly happy with where you are, do what you can to change it. Cut back on the responsibilities that you can, practice a little self love, and remind yourself that it's okay to fail. Reaching a goal or a milestone is a great feeling, but there will always be another goal or milestone that follows. It's a never ending cycle that we need to learn to embrace.

Cover Image Credit: pexels.com

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