There are five days before I graduate. Five days before I get my Bachelor’s degree in Linguistics. Five days before I am set to step foot into the “real world.” It feels like just yesterday that I arrived on campus full of hope and wonder, ready to take on the next four years of my life. It’s a bittersweet feeling. I’ve made this place home. I have settled into my niche here. I have lost myself, and found myself again right here on this campus. How on Earth am I supposed to leave?
Growing up, I was always, in a way ashamed, of my culture because of the ridiculous stereotypes that came along with being south-Asian, so I never really wanted anything to do with being south-Asian. I remember my parents always trying to force me into listening to Hindi and Bengali music or fit me into traditional attire and I was having none of it. They would be so angry, that I was trying “so hard to become American”. Although they never understood that it was not because I wanted to become “American,” but rather, it was because I did not want anything to do with the stereotypes. To me, Hindi music was always something foreign because of the very different instruments and rhythm used. Not knowing Hindi was also a major setback because I had no idea what the singers were singing about. My parents used to play the core Bollywood classics like “Kal Ho Naa Ho” or “Tujhe Dekha Toh Yeh Jana Sanam” to the point where I have the words engraved in my brain but I have no idea what they meant. Continue reading “Embracing My Culture”
I heard it, I felt it, and then I took ownership of it.
The label was my enemy, and my scapegoat.
When I was in fourth grade, I was called dumb for the first time by a classmate. I was called dumb because fourth grade was the first year I was put into a reading help class. I could not read as fast or as well as the other kids. I specifically remember sitting in class one day during reading time and looking over to see the girl next to me reading Harry Potter and then looking, shamefully, back down at my Junie B. Jones book. I could not even fathom trying to read a Harry Potter book. Harry Potter looked like a dictionary compared to the books I was reading. I know it should not have, but this set the tone for me for the rest of elementary school, and even followed me through my high school career. Because of that, I always felt behind everyone else. I was always struggling to keep up, even with the extra help classes. Continue reading “What Happens When You Let Other People Tell You Who You Are?”
Reflection is the key to growth. I find value in reflecting on past experiences because it helps me realize how far I’ve actually come. Right now, as I wrap up my third week of my first fall semester of grad school, I am able to reflect on how much I’ve grown since last fall.
A year ago, I was in my third week of my senior year, brainstorming post grad plans. I was torn between taking a gap year, going straight into grad school, going to Denver, CO; staying in Albany, NY; or going back home, to Queens, NY. I didn’t know where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do. This was odd for me, as someone who loves to plan and know what my next steps are. But for some reason, when it came to post-graduate plans, I just could not figure it out. I put too much pressure on myself to make decisions on things that I needed time to think about. I knew my ultimate career goal was to become a special education teacher, but I was unsure of which path I should take to get there. I was so worried about making the “wrong” decision and choosing a path I would not be happy with.
I talked through my ideas as much as possible with friends and family, however, there is one resource on campus I wish I had taken more advantage of during my senior year. I wish I went to Career and Professional Development to talk to a Peer Career Advisor, who could have helped me narrow my choices. I think I became too overwhelmed because I had too many options. I bet you’re wondering, “How can having too many options be a bad thing?” It is when you are indecisive like myself. I am indecisive in almost every aspect of my life: when it comes to figuring out what I should eat, what to wear, what to do for post grad—you name it. I was given so many options from people I knew in the teaching profession; from Teach for America, Blue Engine Teaching Apprentice, Relay Graduate School for Education, Denver Literacy Fellow, City Year, UAlbany Special Education & Literacy II Program (ding ding ding…we have a winner), Queens College, St. John’s University, NYU, and the list goes on.
I was also torn between going straight into a job that would give me teaching experience right away, versus going into a teacher preparation, graduate school program that would teach me about things like classroom management so I would be better prepared. I was always told, “Experience is your best teacher.” I was also told, “It’s best to feel as prepared as possible before jumping into anything in life.”
I think a year ago, I had enough research done to figure out what my next steps should have been but I did not take the right steps to eliminate options that were not best fit for me. I was able to see myself in every environment that I was considering. It is important to consider getting rid of ideas and options that are not the best fit for your personality, values, needs, etc. It takes a lot of self-reflection to do this and I did not get to this point until March of my senior year. I went all those months, from September to March, not sure what environment was the best fit for me.
If there is any senior who is unsure about what they want to do, or where they want to go, first realize there is no “wrong” path when you are deciding between two or more options. Then realize what your needs and desires are, and truly look into all options to see which one is best fit for you. You just have to take it a step at a time. Process of elimination and weighing pros and cons never hurt. Don’t be afraid to be selfish with your decision. This is your life you are planning for!
Please Note: The views of our student bloggers do not necessarily reflect the views of the UAlbany Advisement Services Center. These are their stories – their voices.
About the Author:
Class of 2017
Minors: English and Education
Pulled Back to Move Forward
This week I noticed a theme in conversations that surrounded me. The topic of vulnerability came up not only as the subject of a classroom discussion, but also within the confines of a conversation I was having with a friend. While we both agreed and discussed how scary it can be to take that chance to open up to someone in that way, I surprised myself by also adding something else:
“I also think, it’s kind of empowering,” I texted hesitatingly, and ironically for the same fear we were just previously discussing.
I wasn’t sure how I would explain myself, and re- recording probably 5 different voice memos (don’t you love modern technology), I finally got something right. To quote it exactly, this is what I said:
“Being vulnerable is terrifying…but at the same time I feel as if I have surrounded myself with people in college who weren’t as afraid of it as I was. So being able to be vulnerable with someone now feels more of a testament to myself, than a testament to whether or not I can trust that person…” Continue reading “Vulnerability”
Society has a huge part in shaping who we are today. The majority of a society forms the norms, or the behaviors viewed as acceptable by society. In America, some examples are tipping your waiter, shaking someone’s hands when you first meet them, and being a cisgender heterosexual person.
We live in a predominantly heteronormative society. As a result, being on the LGBTQ+ spectrum can be overwhelming. Whether you are trans, gay, or whatever the case is, you are not within the societal “norm.” This has affected, and confused me in more ways than I’ve cared to realize. From having to come out as gay to feeling a little weird for holding a girl’s hand in public, the social norms instilled in me have to be constantly broken. Continue reading “Breaking the Stigma”
There are times when one places a lot of thoughts and emotions behind what they think love is. Females tend to build up moments in our head without being the least bit realistic. Not all of us of course, but a lot of us. Personally speaking, I know that I tend to do this a lot, even with topics unrelated to love. For example, I tend to play out how I think a certain event is going to take place and then I’ll go through all possible retorts or responses, so that I can have a comeback. Most of the time I end up overthinking or over-complicating the situation and end up building stress and angst instead of it actually benefiting me. I find that it is easier and more effective approaching things with an open and positive energy rather than preparing for the worst of every outcome. Desired human responses are not guaranteed. You cannot predict the answer or outcome a person will take on. In addition, sometimes, information you did not know about played an important role in how a situation turned out. Continue reading “I am My Own Man”
I didn’t know what I wanted to do after high school. The one thing I really felt passionate about was fitness. I used to be overweight, and I looked for schools to help me with that. I found the World of Fitness Living-Learning Community, and it ended up changing my life. Not only have I grown as a leader, but I’ve also learned that I really do love helping people. Right now I’m working for University at Albany Campus Recreation at the SEFCU and Indian Quad gyms teaching Insanity on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. After I started Insanity, I realized that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. Being in college and teaching and instructing all these different kinds of people, with different backgrounds, and different personalities, has enabled me to integrate them into my own being and knowledge. I’m able to talk to and relate to so many different people.
Fitness shouldn’t be about the aesthetic display of your physique, it should be a reflection of who you are. Take advantage of all the wellness centers that we have here, and all the free group instruction classes. It all comes down to intrinsic motivation. You should be able to wake up in the morning and say, “today is the day that I’m going to take charge of my health, take charge of my life, and take charge of me.”
Sophomore year, before I started Insanity, I was depressed, for a while. There’s a mentor I had, an advisor. Her name is Barbara Brown from Advising Plus. She is literally my second mom. She helped me realize that I wasn’t alone. She helped me stay on track. You cannot allow yourself to plunge deeper into that nasty abyss. Because once you get used to that feeling, it becomes second nature. I felt like I was weak to ask for help. But there’s absolutely nothing wrong with getting help. If I didn’t get help, I would probably still be where I was or even worse. That’s the scariest thing. It’s not about you. You always have at least one person who cares about you. You never want that person to see something bad happen to you. You don’t want that to be the very last memory that you leave here. You will never know your full potential unless you wake up and get started on something. Even if it’s just one goal a day, get started on it. Don’t leave things to chance. Because then you’ll never get anything done.
College is a time for discovering yourself and what gives you goosebumps, your passion. Learn to see things and live for the present, and learn to love yourself. Nowadays we’re not taught how to love ourselves. Where ever you are, whatever sort of state of mind that you’re at, it’s all temporary. Make sure that you leave your mark on earth. We live very short life spans. You want to be able to say “I actually made a difference.” That’s my goal. That’s really what I want everybody to aspire to.”
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Photo by Naomi McPeters
I grew up in an immigrant household. My parents emigrated from the Dominican Republic about twenty five years ago. Being that they both grew up in this country, they have a very specific way of viewing life. They brought their culture and traditions to this country and made it a point to immerse me and my brother in it. They raised us with the intentions of teaching us our history. My father used to make me read books on the formation and birth of the Dominican Republic. My mother made it a point to teach us how to read, write, and speak Spanish, the native language. They raised us listening to merengue, bachata and salsa, and taught us to dance. They sent us to visit our family members in the Dominican Republic every summer. Continue reading “The Chronicles of a Queer Afro-Latina”
I guess it’s true. Time really does fly when you are having fun. I am not even apologizing for the cliche, because if you have been following this series, you know that cliches are to be expected. Back at home, even before returning overseas, “tumblr quotes” were merely a platform for jokes in my eyes. Of course, some of them were so, hilariously extra and they still are. Disobeying such a direct order from the universe to use them would be a disservice to us all, and that just will not do. #InWittyMockeryWeTrust
I am also a fan of hashtags.
But here, “here” being not only Firenze, but countless other magical cities across Europe; the very cliches I once smirked at are the ones I find myself exuding more, and more intensely every day. Though I felt it for three weeks last year in London and have been feeling it for even longer this semester, I still struggle to describe this feeling, this “it”. Continue reading “Clichéd Experiences or Something More?”