Stay true to your roots.
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.