domingo, 21 de setembro de 2014

My American Dream or My American Nightmare?

I thought everything would be perfect! And I truly have had amazing moments that have made my trip incredibly great... But you
 know what? Some cultural shocks were unavoidable... I never thought I'd experience so much in a short period of time. Every single day is a challenge for me when I am able to understand and get to know more about this new world and specially about myself.
I look at myself today and I can see the difference... I grow day by day... I have learned so many things... I have seen so many things...
The American dream for me, sometimes is almost a nightmare. Daily I need to face the college life that constantly contradicts myself. Every single day I've learned to do things myself and rely on God. I feel so blessed for having amazing and helpful people around me though.
I have seen so many things that bother me. The individualism and the over control about personal emotions is something that makes me sad. Sometimes I feel I am changing my personality just for being in here. My interaction with people have changed. I have been bombarded with "the urge to make money, racial issues, personal space, becoming someone and having the perfect appearance, how to show people that you have something or that you are someone that has nothing to do with the real YOU". I never heard so many cases of suicide as I am hearing now. I never saw so many people alone, on their own. I feel now that everything is leading me to think just about myself.
I have learned that there is a big and touchy difference between being white, mixed or black. I have learned how relationships work. I have learned that alcohol, drugs and sex are the ways to explode the emotion of being " finally free", or maybe an attempt to hide the needy individuals they are.
I have seen how people feel extremely worried about money and personal carrier. I have heard: "I do not talk with people because they can invite me to hang out and I won't have time to study, work and make money". I have seen people being ignored insensitively for being "different". I have seen people apologizing for not being athletic as others. I have seen people leaving a place because there was a "weird" person. I have seen people saying to protect the environment but wasting a lot, I said a lot of food! Dishes and dishes full of food!
But I also saw someone's life being changed by getting a "Hi! How are you"... I have been able to see clearly the black table, the white table, the football table at the cafeteria. I have seen how close but separated we are.  I have learned how the media crashes the life enjoyment and how people forget that life and relationship are important in a different way... Wow... It's a lot information for my head. Instead of trying to fit everybody in a table, I have heard: "you should look for another table".
I have seen people pretending that they didn't know me and labeling me as "the church friend", "the guy from my class" and meaning that our relationship is based on the place that we meet on a daily basis. I have seen my opinion being forsaken, my well-being and presence not being considered at my own place ( and this has nothing to do with my roommates, because they are awesome and really respectful with me! :) ). I have seen how superficial relationships are common and how people are afraid to talk to each other. I have seen how Christmas is expected as the most emotional and beautiful moment to hug, to love... I have seen that people do not like to cry because they do not want to show weaknesses. I have payed attention to the ways people find to release their feelings and how being 23 years old doesn't mean being mature at all. I have learned that the sense of being a community is usually expressed just by volunteer work (for a SPECIFIC community) but this is not usually shown on a daily basis.
I also have seen...
I have see how I can change someone's mood with a smile and a hug. I have learned that I can be with the "nerds", the "different people", the black people, the white people, the freshmen and still be cool. I have seen this person's smile for being included in the group instead of sitting alone... that made me day. 
I have seen how the cultural system is powerful... I have enjoyed gathering black, white, brown, different people in a group... I have enjoyed introducing people to each other... I have enjoyed looking for those who are alone and make them part of the group, I have enjoyed seeing someone's smile just because I listened to their worries... I feel awesome when people look at me weirdly for talking with "different people". 
People may judge me saying that I'm overreacting or judging the culture, etc. However personal impressions are to be discussed, confirmed or changed, If we say that our country is the best, we are not being patriotic but hypocrites. You may see the same things in my country or even worse, but we can only see cultural differences in this way... I could be fooling my readers by saying how everything has been perfect without flaws and without issues, but I won't. I will share my positive impressions as well as not very good impressions. 
Take a look at this article that my friend Sarah has shared with me on Facebook: "27 Struggles Every International Student At An American College Knows Too Well"!

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