Posted by Kim Nguyen on February 28, 2011 at 2:24am
All my life, I grew up in a relatively narrow cultural district. I lived in Orange County at the core of the Vietnamese community. I grew up with Asian friends, Asian neighbors, Asian classmates and teachers. The homes I lived in were all a couple blocks from each other, and every night, I was able to watch the Disneyland fireworks at 8:45 from my backyard. Some people may be familiar with the snow, lakes, or rivers. All I had was Huntington Beach. I live within the Asian community and, to a small extent, the Hispanic community. Although I am surrounded by American fast food franchises and super markets, I grew up buying groceries from the Vietnamese markets and eating at the noodle restaurants available on every block. Even the malls in our areas are known for stocking smaller sizes for the slight Asian frame. By the time I was a senior in high school, I decided to choose a college that would allow me to explore outside of my comfort zone and see the world in a different light. I wanted to learn and live in a different environment; one not surrounded by the constantly familiar. I wanted to experience other cultures and a different aspect of life. Yet at the same time, I did not want to compromise my cultural and ethnic identity. As a result, I decided to attend UCLA as I believe it to me the most culturally diverse as well as being near in vicinity to my home city (40 miles away). Life in the suburbs has been comfortable for me, but I also wanted to experience the bustling city life of LA. Life in LA has been very enlightening. The various students I have met, from many different backgrounds has expanded my viewpoint on so many subjects. The students I have met are not only different from me ethnically, but they are also from different areas in the US and the world. This new environment has allowed me to reexamine and reshape my political and social beliefs. I have yet to find a passion that I want to pursue but I think the school and the city will help me find what I need. For now, I find it fulfilling enough to drive through the busy streets of LA (even in traffic) and discover unknown stores and restaurants. My only dissatisfaction with the city is the unavailability of parking.
I'm from Korea, and I came over to the States about 4 years ago meaning that I have lived in Korea, one of the most (culturally and racially) non-diverse countries in the world for 16 years. My parents used to tell me that my views will be more widely open if I spend years in the States, and I didn't really believe it, but now I think I get it.
Every time I go back to Korea for summer and winter breaks, I meet my friends back home who've not seen the "bigger", more diverse world as I have. When I talk with them, I feel the limits their views and yet I can't blame them for having a limited perspective because they simply haven't had a chance to broaden their views like I have without really noticing.