“So…where are you from?”
If you read those last four words and groaned out loud — congrats! You’re reading the right blog post. In the appropriate amount of time it takes for me to decide what to say before the pause becomes too long, I will have run through the usual hodgepodge of replies.
Do I answer with where I grew up? My nationality? My ethnicity? Where most of my family resides?
“I’m Korean-American, I was born in New York but raised in Singapore, apart from the two years I was in Seoul for half of high school before moving back to Singapore and now I’m living in Baltimore.”
A buzzer sound blares in my head. Was that answer too long? Yet, compared to my other friends, it is on the shorter side. Growing up in an American international school my whole life, my classmates would encounter this dilemma of answering The Question. Sometimes we all agreed that the airport was like home — an in-between land so comfortingly similar no matter which country. As expats (a person residing in a place that is not their native country) and TCKs (third-culture kids), there exists the paradigm of not really being sure where to consider “home”.
Maybe all of this sounds familiar but now you’re wondering, hey what exactly does this has to do with college?
After living abroad for all those years, I had questions before coming to JHU about how I would a) fit in the larger student body and b) deal with living in the U.S. by myself.
I knew I wanted to go to a school that actively sought and cultivated diversity and I feel like Hopkins is that place. The diversity in this student body, whether it be socioeconomic, religious, geographic, or ethnic, has allowed me to broaden my perspective in ways I did not expect. After being exposed to all sorts of cultures growing up, I presumed that I heard it all. I quickly discovered I was wrong. Through my conversations, here I have learned so much more about America and the differing worldviews of my fellow classmates than I thought possible in such a short time. At the same time, I feel accepted, by no means an outsider just because I grew up outside of the States.
To close, I remember a friend in my Pre-Orientation group (highly recommend checking out Pre-O programs by the way!) sharing on the last day that she felt like she finally found her people. I couldn’t agree more.
Deciding where to spend the next four years of your life, especially if your options are an ocean away, can be a scary choice. Being 10, 000 miles away from my family, I never would have imagined finding a community like the one that exists on campus, but I truly feel like I gained a new home.
Katie S. is a freshman majoring in Public Health and Sociology with a minor in Social Policy.