Fourteen months after moving to the States, I no longer consider myself a transfer student at Illinois Tech or identify myself as an “International student” in order to identify myself as belonging or not belonging to the Illinois Tech community, to the city of Chicago, or in the context of being different.
I now have people, places, memories and dreams that link me with to Chicago – this “City of the Big Shoulders.” As I look back at the first few months I spent here – learning to make my way around a new city and a new university – I distinctly had the impression that this was going to be exhausting and tiresome!
Why was it going to be so hard to live in Chicago? I am not sure why I believed that at some point, maybe it is the media effect, or maybe it’s just that fear of moving out of my comfort zone to live in a different atmosphere and culture.
At first I was expecting to judged because of the way I looked, the way I spoke and the cadence of speech, and my overall approach with regard to life matters. I even got rid of my beard trying to save myself the trouble of looking different than everyone else around here.
Step by step I came to realize that it is absolutely okay to look different in this city, and at this university. As a matter of fact people will like you for who you are as long as you are being true to yourself and your ideas.
Now, if someone asks me about what I found most interesting (and surprising) about my move to Chicago, I would instantly reply that “I had always been Welcomed.” This “City of Big Shoulders” gave me a space to be myself, and to move forward.
Expected graduation: May 2016