From Albania to Zimbabwe: Adjusting to American Customs

Hi! My name is Nitya Sudarshan from Mumbai, India. I will be writing about what Brown is like as an international student, and my many experiences that helped me make Brown my home really far away from home.

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There are a lot of things that scare you when you come to Brown as an international student – being far away from home, the time difference, different academics and high school experiences, and not being able to go home for all the breaks. But my first few months at Brown revealed to me that actual differences come out in everyday habits – eating, meals, sleeping habits and clothing.

I remember my first exposure to this was when I made plans with an American friend for dinner. I had always eaten dinner around 8 o’clock at night at home, and lunch was never before 1:30 in the afternoon. In this country, it seemed that dinner was now at 6, and lunch at 12. It seemed like a small adjustment to make, but I was not sure whether it was still ‘normal’ for me to do ‘everyday’ things differently.

Over my first semester, these small changes became more and more apparent in a variety of different parts of my college life. This included academics – the way I was taught certain concepts was different from the way in which they were taught here. It included conversations – different terms, different colloquial phrases used to describe situations. It also included language – I was worried about having a different accent and pronouncing words differently. There were some basic things that I just did differently because of the society that I came from.

While being cognisant of different ways of living made me only more scared about fitting in to college, it actually led to me discovering one of my favourite things about Brown – which is how inclusive the community is. It seemed to only matter to me that I ate dinner a couple of hours later, that I had an accent, or that I came from a different country where we did things differently. The whole idea of having a different identity was only a ‘problem’ to me. There were many other international students from different countries who also had different ways of living, but the conclusion that we all came to was that the beauty of Brown is that being different is what makes the Brown Community so diverse and accepting.

If you have any questions or comments feel free to contact me at nitya_sudarshan@brown.edu

 

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