What Independence Day Means An International Student

What Independence Day Means An International Student

Independence Day has as much impact on me as it does on all Americans

Not long ago, I celebrated the 241st birthday of America. I dressed in tri color, held the Stars Spangled Banner, went to parades, and saw fireworks. I seemed as patriotic as everyone else, except that I felt a little guilty for my patriotism.

I am not American. I use different slangs, speak with a different accent, and hold a different color passport. I am a foreigner and should not be mingling with the natives. However, Independence Day has as much impact on me as it does on all Americans

It is a celebration of unity.

Independence Day not only celebrates America's independence from Great Britain but also marks the beginning of the development of American values: democracy, freedom, equality, acceptance, respect, and the list goes on.

I have talked to strangers on every Independence Day since the year I arrived in America, and every year after hearing my story, they would look into my eyes and smile, "Welcome to America." To me, that means a lot more than just being polite. For centuries, this land has had her arms open to everyone, men and women, white and black, Christian and Muslim, liberal and conservative. Years ago, she welcomed me. In America, I harvested friendship, knowledge, skills, and mindset. On Independence Day, I express my gratitude with pride. On Independence Day, I am just as American as the others.

It is an opportunity to learn the history of the country I live in.

The US is not the only country I have lived in besides my home country. My family moved around the world and settled in various countries to ensure that I would have the richest cultural experience possible. Wherever I go, I hold the belief that it would be pointless to live somewhere if I didn't know its history. Independence Day provides me the opportunity to listen to the stories of those came before me. My heart sinks with those who sacrificed for this land, twisted with those who labeled one people superior than the other, and leaped with those who fought and won the battle for freedom and equality. Independence Day made me experience America deeper.

It is recognizing the differences between my home country and the States and reflecting on what America means to me.

I did not arrive in this country on a steamboat. Nor did I go through a series of Elis Island checkups under Lady Liberty's gaze. However, just like generations ago when the ancestors of today's Americans stepped on this land, my family and I came here with dreams and hopes for the future.

A lot of people have told me that no matter how many American pop songs I listen to or how minimal my accent is, I am and will always be a foreigner in the country. The first fourteen years of my life was spent elsewhere, and this gap, they say, would never be filled with any effort to fit in. I dare say there is no American culture – American culture itself is a mixture of various traditions. To me, it is about respecting, accepting, and understanding other cultures. I am honored to be part of it while holding the values that run in my family.

While I paraded down the streets with the Star-Spangled Banner over my shoulder, I felt out of place. That feeling was soon dissolved into the realization that everyone in this immigrant country has once been in my shoe as a foreigner. Independence Day reminds me my role in this country – I may hold a different passport, but I can do as well, dream as high, and love the land as much – as the others around me.

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13 Summer Struggles Only Thick Girls Understand

Chaffing. So much chaffing.

Summer is a lovely time. A time of cookouts, swimming and sunny weather. But if you're a " thick girl," summer sometimes brings more unpleasantries than it does for slimmer women. No matter how beautiful and confident you are in your body, it can bring some struggles.

1. The living hell that is shorts shopping

Step 1: Find the biggest size the store has.

Step 2: (If you can even get those on): Realize your stomach is being squeezed into the top, your butt is falling out of the back and your thighs are having the life squished out of them.

Step 3: Realize why winter isn't so bad.

2. And dealing with them even after finding a pair that "fits"

Nothing like taking a pair of shorts home you remember fitting you okay in the store and then walking for 45 seconds and pulling them out of your butt or crotch 17 times. Truly a magical experience.

3. And every bathing suit you try on shows more skin than you'd planned

Even the most conservative bathing suit turns into cleavage-city and a non-cheeky set of bottoms turns into a thong. I promise, older people glaring at me in my sexual bathing suit, I didn't mean for this to happen!

4. Chaffing. So much chaffing

No better feeling than 4 minutes into wearing short shorts realizing that your inner thighs are literally tearing themselves apart. Body Glide and baby powder are a thick girl's #1 necessity.

5. Loving rompers. Rompers not loving you.

Rompers are made with short and skinny girls in mind. Heaven forbid you're not short, and heaven forbid you're not skinny. Rompers are like a mystical article of clothing that, no matter what, always just barely doesn't fit.

6. Imagining wearing a sundress with a strapless bra and just laughing

Of course, not all thick girls are well-endowed in the boob department, but if you are, you understand how hilarious the thought of you wearing a strapless bra truly is.

7. And bralettes are a thing of fantasy

Once again, bralettes are designed for a very specific body type. One that I do not fall into.

8. Feeling like you need to constantly defend yourself for dressing like you want to

There are so many posts and tweets and just general ideals that people have that certain sized women can't wear certain clothing. You shouldn't feel the need to defend yourself for wearing a cute crop top or a bikini, but you will.

9. And always feeling looked at when you're rocking your swim suit

Yes, I see your judging eyes, and yes, they are making me feel like shit. It doesn't matter how confident you are in your body, people looking at you like you just killed somebody just because you're wearing something typically made for smaller women doesn't make you feel good.

10. Did I mention chaffing?

I just felt like something so horrible couldn't just be mentioned once.

11. Online shopping for cute summer outfits and then none of them fitting you correctly

There's always the dreaded "one size fits all" for plus-sized women. As if there's just one way to be plus-sized. No matter how much they promise online that it'll fit well, it won't.

12. Seeing tiny girls complaining about losing their "summer bodies"

So many tweets talking about choosing food over a summer body. So many profile pictures of traditionally skinny women. I'm not saying that thick girls are the only ones who can complain about their summer bodies, and thick girls do not have a monopoly one not feeling confident in their bodies. But it is hard to see those posts knowing that those women would be glorified in their swimwear while you'd be gawked at.

13. The "you go girl!" comments on your oh-so-brave bikini photos

Compliments are nice, and positive comments while wearing a bikini go a long way. But the dreaded "you go girl" comment just seems so condescending. Just treat me like anyone else you'd see wearing a bikini. I promise, I'd like to feel like that.

Cover Image Credit: Sara Petty

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I Wish Fireworks Were Still Illegal In My State

Be safe and considerate with your firework shows.

I hate fireworks. Not all of them though. I enjoy getting up as close as I can to watch the shows on the 4th of July. I think the cities and towns put on an amazing display for the people to enjoy. However, what I hate is that in my state, it's legal to buy, own, and set off your own fireworks.

Someone in my neighborhood was setting some off the other night, and I was about ready to lose it for multiple reasons. First, it woke me up. I had been out all day going to several places and doing a lot of driving. I was tired, and I wanted to sleep as I would be getting up early the next morning. So now I'm awake, freaking out a bit as I have no idea what that incredibly loud bang was, and trying to figure out what was going on. It would be silent for a few minutes, then another one would go off. My window was facing towards wherever they were coming from so I figured out what it was soon enough. It would've been fine if they would just set them all off at once and get it over with. Instead, they were few and far between, and even at one point, I thought they were over and getting ready to fall back asleep, just for it to start back up again.

I posted on Facebook about my irritation and my sister commented how she was awake, and so were her animals. So she came over to my room. Her dog and cat both freaking out and scared. I don't blame them; it was loud and close and they've never really experienced that before. We've always heard them from farther away.

Between seeing the animals stressed, and thinking about how I kept jumping a bit at the unexpected noise of fireworks being set off, it got me thinking. How many other people have a very hard time dealing with this? There are countless animals around, veterans with PTSD, children who fear loud noises, adults with mental illness or their own history of trauma, and anyone who has trouble dealing with fireworks randomly going off. At least with the annual shows, you know where it's going to be, when it starts and ends, and can plan for it. However, when random people are just setting them off around you, you can't exactly plan for that. Now you're stuck trying to console someone and not knowing when it's going to stop.

I wish people weren't allowed to use fireworks. They're dangerous on their own to begin with, and you have no idea how badly you're effecting the people around you. I understand that in the moment you're not really thinking about that, I didn't really think about it either until my animals were scared. My brother and his fiance have 7 dogs and a baby in their house. Their dogs were terrified and they were on edge hoping their son wouldn't wake up. Firework shows are fine, you can plan. You can't plan or really do much else when they're just randomly going off around you.

The 4th of July is hard enough as it is. Places get crowed, people get scared, and it's actually one of the top holidays for pets to go missing. Adding in even more stress of a surprise show going off next door, it sort of takes the fun out of it all.

I wish fireworks were still illegal to own in this state, but I doubt that's going to happen. Instead I urge those who purchase them and plan to do their own show, be a little more considerate of those around you. Maybe check in with a few neighbors before you do it. Let them know when and find out if there is anyone near by that will struggle with the noise so that they could maybe leave for a bit, or at least prepare themselves.

Lastly, be safe. This stuff is dangerous. I recently heard on the news about kids getting burns from sparklers and a house catching on fire because of fireworks. Learn about the proper way to use them and don't mess around. I've seen plenty of prank videos that could've ended very bad.

Be safe and considerate with those fireworks!

Cover Image Credit: cesarsway.com

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