September 6, 2013

How to embrace the 'new' while staying true to yourself

Cleveland Browns Football Game
"Do you want to watch a football game?"

"Um…I could try…"


I know this is an invitation I could not resist.

During my first year in the US, I watched one football game. It was at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. The sport stadium is fabulous, accommodating around 100,000 people. On that day, everyone wore red T-shirts, set up tents around the area and had BBQs with family, waiting for the exciting moment of kick-off that evening.

From that point, I start to understand that football is American's life.

So when people again invited me to a football game, I could not say "no". Otherwise, it would make me feel like I turned down a warm invitation from someone who really likes it. Also, it would make me sound isolated. Who won't like football in this country?

I went to the Browns game. It was wonderful, from people's energy around me I could tell. But to tell the truth, I could only understand a some of the rules of the game. Sometimes when people around me suddenly stood up and I did not know what happened. I looked like a fool in such an enthusiastic stadium.

As a traditional Chinese girl, I like sports like badminton and table tennis, which are popular in China. I never watched football before I came to the US. Almost no one talks about this game. It is a totally new thing for me. Having watched it twice, I could say maybe … it was just not my game.

What I have experienced might also be the experience for most international students. In a new country, there are lots of things we have never tried before. Some we like, some we don't. I kind of feel a little pressure that I should like something like football here, because I want to be part of the culture.

But when I realized I actually do not like that popular game so much, I was frustrated.

As an international student, we leave what we are used to for twenty years, come to a new continent, speak another language and experience a totally different culture. We are brave. But it is also common to be caught up with a culture shock. The instinct to be accepted pushes us to try new things and gradually change some of our habits. However, it is not an easy process. We are surprised, we try, we laugh, we enjoy. But we also hesitate, doubt, struggle and reflect. Sometimes it is not that we don’t like it, it is just we are not used to it. Suddenly these new things emerge in our life, our first reaction is resistance.

Fortunately, America is such a diversified and embracing country. You could speak out whatever you feel and people will respect that. Even for most situations, people cherish different ideas. I gradually realize even though I am trying to be part of this foreign country, I am still independent, no need to be assimilated.

So, I leave you with this, keep trying new things here, step out of our comfort zone. But stay with your heart.

Next time when people ask me to try a football game, I would say "yes" with my whole heart.

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Yi (Frances) Shi - International Contributor
I am from China and have been in Cleveland for one year. I love it here, although there have been a lot of surprises. I will write about my life, including the joy and frustration that comes with getting my Masters of Science in Management - Finance degree at Weatherhead School of Management and with living in America.

Hope you can get a little inspiration from my story and make your life even more wonderful here!




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