Only two weeks have gone by since I’ve arrived in the UK but I’ve already come to realize how much of a niche I’d been fit into back home– both by myself and American society. As an Asian American, there’s a few popular expectations I’ve found myself meeting or even trying harder to attempt to meet. I love boba, went through a hardcore phase of discovering Asian mainstream culture (dramas, kpop, anime, you name it), prefer Asian food as my go-to daily cuisine but love milkshakes and Portillo’s, and bop to old Train songs. I’m often considered Asian enough to be different or exotic, but too American to be authentically Chinese, language skill and culture wise. Thus, in the States, I felt most comfortable with those just like me: other Asian Americans. Though it’s common to vibe more with people like yourself, I found that at Northwestern all my close friends were Asian, if not Asian American. It’s wonderful, but also limiting, with the limit being something that I’ve brought onto myself in an effort to feel like I belong more.
Here, in the UK, I’m considered international. Whether my peers are considering my American background or my Asian heritage, I’m simply someone different to be curious about; Asian American isn’t really approached as an identity separate from both American and Asian. The preconceptions that typically follow me are less prevalent and for the first time ever my closest friends are from all over the world– Spain, Ecuador, China, and even UChicago. I don’t feel the need to prove that I was obsessed with Zac Efron and Taylor Swift as a teen, or that I can speak Chinese fluently. My Asian American identity is definitely something I’m proud of but, at the same time, I’m really thankful to be in London. The change in setting will hopefully not only expose me to a new culture but to new sides of myself.
Unrelated: tons of good food places near UCL!!