Ever since I got to the United States to begin my University education, one extremely common question almost everyone asks me is ‘Why did you pick the University of Texas at Austin?” I can remember that the first time I was asked that question was at the United States embassy in Nigeria. However, I had been prepared to answer that question so I answered by given a succinct description of how the school was really good for economics and how I was looking forward to building diverse friendships and network. But when my peers in the university asked me, I was always enthusiastic of how I appreciated the diversity on campus.
Looking back to my first days as an International student in my freshman year, I can remember how overwhelmed I was at first with the diversity. Standing in the line for my vaccination during my orientation, I can remember hearing so many languages around me. I could hear a group of Asian girls in front of me probably speaking mandarin or Korean or maybe even Japanese. I smiled to myself as I overhead a boy behind me speaking Spanish on the phone. Not to talk of how overwhelmed I was when I saw a group of students ahead of the line talking to each other in some Indian dialect. I had never been so exposed to so much diversity in my entire life and I wondered if we differed in behaviors or attitudes to life. I also wondered if just like me any of them was also overwhelmed with the diversity vibrating in the air. It was beautiful and if there is anything that I can remember saying to myself then, it was that I loved it and I was so sure that this was the beginning of an entirely whole new experience.
My first friend in college was a beautiful Korean girl who had stood behind in the queue where we picked up our registration slips and name labels for orientation. And as soon as we started talking, we immediately clicked. I can remember being very cautious and careful when I spoke to her because I didn’t want to be unconsciously impolite and rude. And so, when she asked that we exchange numbers and keep in contact, I felt that I had not offended her unconsciously in anyway. Later on, I found her to be one of the simplest people ever. Our relationship flourished in many ways as she had lived in three countries while growing and due to this, we always had things to talk about. More so, we had so many similar interests like shopping, going out, makeup and in fact we had almost the same taste in fashion.
This realization of how we had so much in common stunned me. And soon, I came to realize that although we came from different parts of the world, we had similar interests. This was how I came to realize that we as humans, as not as different as we think. Despite our ethnical and racial differences, many of us are similar in many ways; we love to be complimented, we enjoy looking good and enjoy meeting new people.
Although, I am still in freshman year, I still consciously look forward to being exposed to many new ideas that I was formerly unaware of. In fact, if I had previously read a book about how we are all similar despite our cultural and ethnic differences, I may have overlooked it and considered it to be an overstatement of our similar body structures. However, since the best way to understand something is to experience it personally, this new outlook of life is something that I can never take for granted or overlook. It is something that I still constantly observe on a daily basis as I look forward to exploiting the opportunity of being here that God and my parents have given to me.