I always knew that meeting people that were different from me would be a given in college. Being from Wyoming, I experienced little diversity in my early years of life. I was used to the Western way of life and wholly American values, traditions, and views. I knew that many people I would meet would challenge and clash with all of those. I just had no idea how important it would be.
Since I have been at Penn, I have met people from all around the world, from every ethnic heritage and way of thinking. I have met people whose values are similar to mine and people who are vastly different from me in every way. I never thought about diversity as a significant part of my college experience, until I discovered that it would be my college experience.
Because of the amazing people I have met at Penn, the world has been opened up to me in so many ways. By proxy, I have gotten to experience the nuances of various cultures and ways of life that I would have never thought to investigate. All of my roommates are from different areas of the world than me, and than each other (see fun map below) and so I have gotten the invaluable opportunity to discuss with them a variety of aspects of their culture. I’ve learned about views on marriage, gender roles, and food, just to name a few. It’s been eye-opening to see how many similarities you can share with someone who grew up halfway around the world from you.
This is a little short and sweet, but I can’t underscore enough the importance of finding someone different than you during college. Even if you are going somewhere close to home, there’s always someone to be found who sees things in a different way, holds different views, or lives their life differently, even if they aren’t from a completely different continent.
Embrace the difference. Seek what’s new. Allow yourself to grow from the experience.