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Summary: Should one let their identity and roots be forgotten? Should one forsake their identity for the sake of adapting, assimilation and adjusting for becoming an American?

A pair of ethnic students with opposite characters. One that has assimilated completely and the other has been unable to adapt at all.

They clash while trying to figure out the right answer to this question.

Please be advised that these thoughts are not my own. I am not going to label myself and acknowledge how or what I think about politics and certain political topics as these are private and have nothing to do with this particular piece. I just needed two particular personalities clashing and in order to best achieve that goal these were the characters I developed. In no means do these characters portray or depict my feelings, or my thoughts. This is fiction. I hope you read this story with that in mind.

As you can probably see from the different things in my profile, people on Booksie I've been constantly talking with, and my works that I am very open minded and rarely anything offends me, but please no disrespectful bashing. From one writer to another, we all should respect all artistic creation.

Constructive criticism is always more than encouraged and welcome, but no bashing.

Submitted:Feb 11, 2010    Reads: 113    Comments: 10    Likes: 11   

Coming to United States of America was my idea for a better education. My parents were shocked at the idea hence I have been long against the policies, policy implementation and self righteous acts of America. I have detested most of their presidents and war stricken people in the twenty-first century and the way they boast about everything making others bow down to them. As you'll find out I am a very political person.

I am from a small country in the middle of no where. We have our own language, our own religion, our own customs, tradition, norm and societies. I've always been quite content with our way of life and the way we lead our lives as a nation. Indeed we are a small nation, but we have rich natural resources and we get along quite happily. Our nation deems education and self progress rather important. The number of those that does not graduate from college is minimal. I am a chemical engineer. It was my passion in life. I struggled through elementary and middle school, trying to dream myself in the future. I always came up with many answers, but not one particular dream stood out. I often wondered what I would be when I became an adult. I never knew the answer to my question. But upon entering high school, I found my calling in life; Chemistry! Chemical engineering was what I decided to follow upon entering college. Never regretted it since that day.

I completed my masters in Japan. What a wonderful time that was! Japan became like my second home. At first, I was inclined to get my doctorate in Japan too, for many reasons. Japanese education system is very hard, mind probing and challenging. I also loved the culture and living there. The language was hard at first, but very rewarding. After some thinking period, I decided to get my doctorate in the States as every other country in the world deems United States education was extremely important and something that should be included in our resumes. Most people have the dream to go to school in the States. It was never one of mine. Against my gut feeling and my better judgment, for the sake of my future I applied and was accepted into a top notch American University. Although the process was extremely irritating I found it a good challenge to overcome. I was aware of the situation I would be put in, the difficulties that will welcome me, obstacles I would have to hurdle over, and I was able to anticipate certain situations as I already had experienced going to school in another country. Therefore I judged that trying things a bit differently this time would be the best avenue of action. Also, I judged starting earlier this time around would benefit me in the long run. When I went to Japan I faced some difficulties. But overall it was a great experience. I wish to go there soon again-even if it is just to visit. I loved the Japanese people and the culture, but I wasn't quite happy the way American culture was portrayed from movies and popular culture. I got along with the Japanese people so easily. Having a Japanese roommate was the best decision I could of made. I wasn't sure that I could handle an American roommate. Through the movies and everything else out there in the age of technology and information, they hardly deemed reliable, responsible and efficient in my eyes. Thus my search began.

I wanted to make sure I was prepared for the worst. I anticipated the cultural boundaries, religious differences, language difficulties would all play a factor in my experience during my four year stay in United States. Therefore, I wanted to share my first semester with someone from my country; who spoke the same language, who shared the same culture, who practiced the same religion, who had similar values as mine. I figured it would be comforting to know someone from at least the same country I grew up in and would make an easier transition and a smoother time for me to share this experience with someone who can understand where I am coming from. I hardly thought that someone American could understand the way I look at life and education. After all what kind of an industrialized country has such a poor education system for primary and secondary education? Worst yet, what kind of a country charges tens and thousands of dollars their citizens for higher education? Didn't American government want to have intelligent and capable citizens? Or, was status and money still a problem in the American citizens' daily life? For those reasons, and to seek the comfort of home on an individual basis, I judged having a roommate from my country to be the best decision. I made preparations far ahead and sought to remove all kinds of problems that may arise, before they reared their ugly heads. But nothing I did could have done, could ever prepared me for my new and estranged roommate.

I arrived in the middle of August. The hot and sticky weather of District of Columbia welcomed me, much to my dismay. The scenery, buildings, and the natural habitat, the history of the States under my feet and the very interesting venues to visit were just my kind of stuff. I hate to admit, but it was quite a shocker to me. It was beautiful here with such lively places and so many things to do. I never ran out of things to do. I had heard that D.C., was pleasant through the spring till mid fall. It wasn't a let down. Fall, was beautiful here in deed. United States with its cool new things was quite satisfactory. What a let down was my roommate. Finding my suit and slowly settling were the fun parts as she was out much of the time. She even arrived a week later school had started. This boggled my mind, but I didn't think much of it. From an Undergraduate student I expected such behavior. But such behavior from someone who has made their way up to their doctorate was rather absurd and inconceivable to me.

When she did finally arrive, she arrived with a bang! She was loud, inconsiderate, obnoxious, messy and well, what I perceived an American to be. She, like me was here for education. Only she arrived during her Undergraduate years. Drinking, leaving everything to last minute, partying constantly, and trying to appease her American friends were unfathomable to me. She cared too much about her appearance and the brand names she wore. Her room did not bother me as it was her separate living quarters. She could do whatever she liked in her own room. But she always and I do mean always left dishes in the sink, food on the stove, floors were occupied with garbage and dirty shoe marks, and the living room was always filled with liquor and wine bottles. I could not remove the stink from our apartment no matter what. Her clothes were scattered around the living room, and the bathroom was a mystery to me. It inhabited the boogey man for me. She was even harder to deal with in person. Loud, rude, selfish, obstinate and well, unpleasant. She was not willing to help me out at all. She always sarcastically answered any question I ever had. The first few weeks I left her to herself, giving her time to readjust and resettle in. I tried to stay out of her way as she deemed impossible to get through in my mind.

Now, I am not a person who really puts up with such delinquent acts. But I figured I would give her time and slowly things shall get better. Maybe she was going through a difficult time in her life? When my hypothesis didn't hold up in experiment, things had to change as I was wearing really thin on my patience. I decided by calling a truce, not that there ever was a battle between the two of us. But as it was our custom, always start on the right and the good foot. So I cleaned the bathroom, the living room and the kitchen. I made a home cooked traditional meal and a desert. I took the whole day off from my studies just to be able to finish everything on time. I figured in a friendly environment with an amiable tone and mood things would go much smoother and well, for better lack of the word-better. All hell broke loose that day. First she said she didn't eat such crap (food is not crap), and secondly she screamed around demanding how I had the courage to move her clothes and items around, without her permission (what was she thinking, the whole house belonged to her?) I was beyond confused and frustrated by this point. All of my well intentioned will was wasted on a brat. Well, if you draw your guns then I shall draw mine. My parents never once yelled at me, and I had never been screamed at before. I was offended. I was ashamed. At first, I felt like it was my fault. Then this rage built inside of me. I have been in some gruesome and heated debates, but never had anyone shown such disrespect to me. My fuses went off. A horn blasted through my ears, and I was fuming with smoke coming out of my nostrils. My hairs were on its end, like I was electrocuted. So I began my one sided long talk.

"First of all, we're all adults here, and you are in no greater position than I am. Therefore, lower your voice when speaking to me. Secondly, if you do not want me to touch, remove, throw out or worse burn your belongings do not leave them in communal living quarters. You can open the gates of hell in YOUR own room. But this space belongs to both of us, and I am severely allergic to mess. Therefore, you shall keep it clean. Leave your damn underwear in your own room. I don't need to see your big underwear laying around, loitering my space. Thirdly, clean up after yourself. I am not your mother, and you are not paying me to clean after yourself. If you do not clean up, I will just throw them out. There are consequences to actions, did your parents not teach you such basic courtesy rules? I am not a little child. I will treat you like the way you treat me. So watch how you talk and how you act. Don't get in my way, because it takes two to tango. I can behave just as bad like you. Don't make me lose my temper as it isn't a pretty sight."

She went on to talk and I just slammed my door on her face. I realize it wasn't the most correct way to settle things. But I had just had enough of her rude and unexplainable actions. What did she think, just because I am a foreigner I am going to be pushed into the corner and cry my eyes out? She had assimilated and adapted into the American culture far too fast and far too much. Who gives her the right to treat others so despicably? Things only got worse after that. Just in spite she left things around and left the whole house a mess. Her friends came over more often, stayed till later, were louder, and more inconsiderate.

My observation of her continued to fail her completely. She tried so hard at being an American. Her clothing, the movies she watched, her accessories, how she styled herself, and the way she made and based her two way relationships. Her mannerisms, her expressions, her behavior, and her mentality, her out look on life. It was so American and so foreign to me. I was not sharing my suit with someone from my country. I was sharing my suite with an arrogant and horrendous American. Her talking, the way she constructed her sentences and that accent. She tried so hard to mask her accent. She never managed it, and it always sounded worst because she made mental edits as it sounded forced and like an alien speaking. I for one, was really proud of my accent as it set me different from the rest of students in my class. She didn't eat our country's food but ate any other country's to prove she was "cultured". I hardly think eating three dollar ramen is considered having a class or culture. When someone did ask her about her roots, she looked at them trying to fake a dumbfounded look and ask what they meant. She would give some West coast city and state name and saying she was born and raised in U.S. This confused me the most. Did she think people were stupid? Did she really think people were going to buy that story? Even if they did, her skin color, her facial features, her body structure and that accent were proving to the contrary. Did she think people were ignorant and unaware of such fallacies? Sure she might of led a high school freshman to believe that story. I hardly think someone in doctorate would buy that. They didn't. She was like the laughing stock of the Doctorate students. Her actions and bewilderment, her obsession at being an American saddened and made me feel ashamed to call her my kinswoman. Such an embarrassing person she was.

The semester went by as the two of us continually bickered and as she tried to out do me. Instead of becoming close friends with her as I had presumed and hoped, I learned a very valuable lesson. I was still correct regarding my political beliefs and political thoughts however, I was severely wrong regarding my opinion of American people. I am sure there are very ignorant, arrogant and well, uneducated people among American citizens. I am without a doubt on that topic. However, I've learned that not all were like that. To the contrary, most were not. I found most of my fellow students to be quite enjoyable, cultured, funny and amiable. They were very pleasant people with smart jokes and caring hearts. They valued family and friendship as much as my people and I did. They were so willing to help another fellow classmate. They always lent an ear to those who wanted to be heard. They were respectful, understanding and interested in the origins of their classmates. They were willing to learn about my culture, my religion, my food, my customs and norms, and my country. Sure, they didn't understand and were not able to relate to everything, just as I was unable to relate and understand everything regarding America. But they were interested, and understanding, looking over the differences when misunderstandings occurred. What more could someone ask? Through cultural ambiguities and differences so many misunderstandings can occur-does occur. However I had found a large group of great people who were willing to look beyond that, and be patient with me. I learned a lot from them as they slowly took me through America. So many fond memories I now have when I look back. When I have kids someday, I will encourage them to visit America, to study in America and experience some of the most excellent people on earth.

So which one of us were right in our behavior? Sadly-either of us. I would of liked to say I was. However, my preconceptions and presumings were incorrect just like her erratic and chaotic behavior was. My judgmental and prejudiced attitude and mindset allowed me to ignorantly disrespect a great number of people without truly knowing anything about them. I had followed the trend patterns in media to base my hollow opinion. One that would of cost me some very dear friends that are a big part of my life now. Secret solution to this conflict as it is to everything else in life was-Balance. Sweet, delicate balance as it seems the world turns around on it.


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