A complicated relationship
International student reflects on time spent at UB as she enters last semester
As an international student, I have had a complicated relationship with UB. It has become more complicated since I realized this semester was going to be my last.
I like to think of my stint at UB as a floating home experience. Being here would never be the same as being home, yet, I met the most ‘homey’ people here.
Buffalo will not be my home in the future, but I might owe much of my future to UB. See the complication?
For most foreign students I’ve met, UB becomes a sort of limbo – a place that we start off hating, then discovering, later accepting and finally embodying in spite of the impermanence college life instills upon us. After college, many people will get jobs and move out of the state or out of the country. There is a dispersal of individuals, a suspension of colorful experiences and an evolution of mixed emotions.
No matter how one claims to love change, there is no getting around the anxiety that accompanies that transition.
In four months, I will be packing my bulky suitcases and leaving for India one last time. That day is not far away. When I do leave, I will surely miss the culture that has both astonished me and simultaneously made me question the meaning and repercussions of personal liberty.
I was homesick and ridden with culture shock my freshman year. I was too far from the familiar. I wanted to graduate as soon as possible and leave. Eight semesters seemed long and I wanted to finish at least one semester early.
This is no place for me, I told myself. How can I possibly blend in and do well in such an alien culture? The food was bland and public norms were different. The whole environment was new to me. I was also conscious of how much I stood out with my accent, vegetarianism and unconventional major combination.
But somewhere down the road, things changed.
Throughout the next three years, I took life-changing classes, studied abroad in London and became involved in various ways on campus. This university has empowered me to stand out and for that, I’m grateful. I met kind and considerate people who have shown me inspiring hospitality and fun people to go out with.
Sometimes life leads you to places you never envisioned, rewarding you with the sort of happiness that was never expected in the first place. Life at UB has done that.
I have always been meaning to return to India to start my professional career. This means I probably won’t be visiting Buffalo for years. It’s like Will Turner Jr. from Pirates of the Caribbean, having to live a day on land and 10 years at sea.
The significance of this last semester really brings into perspective what a short amount of time I spent at UB and the deep impact it had on me.
As much as I want college to end, I’m aware of the possibility of my every experience, however small, being one of the last at UB. Was last semester really the last time I will see a musical on campus? Will the upcoming Halloween be my last one in Buffalo? Maybe this slice of pizza I’m eating right now is the best one I’ll ever have before I leave UB!
It comes down to how much value you place on your experiences growing up and how you use those to draw strength from on bad days. When thoughts of leaving UB arise in my mind, that’s what I’m going to do – think of all the wonderful times I’ve had here with friends, all the episodes of finding my interests, the epiphanies, the club events, the free food and the fests.
The next few months demand to be savored like the fragrance of scented candles.
I’m going to try and make every moment count and you probably should too. Go to events, get involved – make sure you leave your mark at UB whether you’re an international student or not.
And if you are an international freshman, don’t worry – it gets so much better.
Having said that, I really am waiting to go back to India. Bring on the monsoons and spice, because honestly, I’d never live my whole life any other way.