REAL TALK

Stay true to your roots.

The Jakarta Post - SPEAK! - - News -

In some cases, your cho­sen univer­sity might be in a dif­fer­ent city, coun­try or even con­ti­nent. Whether you are su­per sad to leave or ex­tremely ex­cited for what is ahead, you’ve got to al­ways re­mem­ber your roots.

But what does that mean ex­actly? For my mother, this meant pack­ing my suit­cases with a ton of In­done­sian left home for Phillips Ex­eter Academy.

It was her way of re­mind­ing me that I was rep­re­sent­ing In­done­sia when I was abroad.And I did just that, as I was the only In­done­sian stu­dent while I was en­rolled at PEA.

It was ironic: By leav­ing home, I be­came in­ter­ested in where I came from. Be­ing dif­fer­ent from ev­ery­body else up in In­done­sia con­sti­tuted a lot of that.

For in­stance, I am ac­cus­tomed to pray­ing be­fore I eat, but my Amer­i­can friends found it strange.

Although the US is gen­er­ally re­garded as a cul­tur­ally Chris­tian coun­try, many of my Amer­i­can friends grew

This is in stark dif­fer­ence to In­done­sia, where some­thing I cher­ished even more, as it shaped me into who I am to­day.

Leav­ing home and start­ing col­lege will cer­tainly bring about many changes in your life. Remembering one’s roots does not mean re­sist­ing all these changes.

In fact, I en­cour­age you to em­brace all the ex­cit­ing op­tions that will be avail­able.

It’s when you try out new things you dis­cover what part of learn­ing more about your­self.

And you go to univer­sity to do just that: ex­plore which paths you are meant to take!

So let me en­cour­age you, to re­mem­ber where you started as you make this jour­ney.

Remembering one’s roots does not re­quire you to join an In­done­sian stu­dent or­ga­ni­za­tion, such as PERMIAS, or a South­east Asian club in your school.

Although this is a great way to spread In­done­sian cul­ture to your school or raise aware­ness for on­go­ing is­sues back home; un­der­stand­ably, this does not al­ways ap­peal to ev­ery­one.

For me, remembering one’s roots is un­der­stand­ing how your up­bring­ing has come to shape made you dif­fer­ent.

This does not al­ways mean your na­tion­al­ity as an In­done­sian. This can also mean your iden­tity as an older sib­ling, as a team mem­ber or as a Mus­lim.

Col­lege will be one crazy ride, so it is im­por­tant to not lose your­self in the process.

+ Brea Salim

at Barnard The writer is a stu­dent

and Col­lege, Columbia Univer­sity, au­thor of Bright Eyes.

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