Archive for July, 2011

Withdrawal Symptoms

July 29th, 2011

As you guys probably know, I’ve been at UCSD the last 3 weeks for a summer program thing. I have enjoyed almost all of it, as I’ve mentioned on Skype and stuff, particularly because I got to meet many different type of people. There is a diversity here that definitely does not exist in Arcadia. The last few days, I have already not been particularly excited about going back home, but  today it seems to have hit me even harder. While not the cause of my semi-emotional-breakdown, the thing that probably triggered the existing thoughts in my head was a conversation between a few of the people in my class during the incredibly boring graduation rehearsal.

They were talking about their experiences at parties and stuff, including doing stupid things while drunk and just other things they do, a conversation which I clearly, could have no participation in. It’s not that I have a desire to get super drunk and not remember the events of a whole night or anything, but just listening to them made me realize the stark contrast between their lives and mine.

Tim was saying yesterday that he thinks the only really different thing about Arcadia is it being upper middle class. I almost completely disagree. Being able to drive down the street, and see almost all restaurant and store signs written in Chinese is not something that can happen in just any city in America. While I know that there are drugs/alcohol/parties and stuff in Arcadia, it is clearly not a cultural norm as it is elsewhere. It’s definitely not just about the drugs and stuff either; that’s just the most obvious example. Another pretty clear example is how much more aware people seem to be of national/political issues, topics which from my experience are rarely heard of in Arcadia.

The whole culture and atmosphere of Arcadia is just not the same as the rest of America. Think about it. How many Asian Arcadians do you know whose parents were born here? Almost everyone I know was either born in Asia, or had parents born in Asia. Off the top of my head, I can think of only one acquaintance of mine who has parents born here, fluent in English, and totally familiar with American culture. Yeah, there are nonasian people in Arcadia too, but as they are a minority, they visibly do not have that much influence over the overall atmosphere of Arcadia, a clearly Asian-dominated town.

I know that you’re supposed to be “prideful” or whatever in your background and where you came from, but honestly, I am not. Like I said on skype, most of the time I have no problem fitting in, but when I think deeper, there are inherent differences because of how different of a place I grew up in. Some people are fine with remaining in the whole Asian/American-born Asian way of life, but that is not me. What happens in China/Hong Kong/Taiwan is no more relevant to me than what happens in France or Saudi Arabia. It’s not just that, I think that my whole mindset/philosophy/interest is more American than Asian.

I guess that I kind of wish I was born and raised in a “typical” American family. But I know that I wasn’t, and that I can’t change that. My dad has warned me plenty of times that it may be difficult to fit into mainstream American society because I will probably be looked at as closer to the FOB’s than to Americans. And even if people don’t consciously discriminate this way, I still have grown up my whole life in an environment not like  most people I will meet.

The other option is to just “embrace” my Asianess and just do what the path of a model Arcadian is. Go to a good school, study all day, get a fairly high paying job, marry an Asian girl, maybe have a kid, send the kid to an Arcadia-y school and continue the cycle. All while remaining contained in Asian interests, activities, and interactions. It’s a valid path, I guess, and it’s much easier, and may be more comfortable for some. But not for me. That’s not what I want to do.

That leaves me in stuck, in between two cultures, one that I would like to be a part of, but can never totally be in, and one that I wish to leave behind, but may never be escapable. And I don’t think that the Middle Way is the best path to take in this case. To forever be torn apart, in what might be described as isolation. That may be one of my biggest fears.

That’s Your Title

July 20th, 2011

I post so rarely now that I have to look up the date of my last post, and go into my Google Calendar to look up what I wanted to talk about. That post was nearly a month ago… and this is a summertime post, where I supposedly have boundless amounts of free time to dedicate to various assorted meaningful and meaningless activities. Well, that’s not quite true. With my full-time summer job that barely pays minimum wage at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, I don’t really have free time on weekdays.

Said occupation began humorously on June 27, two days after my last post– well, to tell the truth, I met with my research professor as a JPL visitor on Friday to discuss my research, as he was leaving for a 2-week trip to attend a conference. By humorously, I don’t mean that anything humorous happened; I only mean to say that I was in good humor. Arriving late on the first day to orientation, as any respectable new hire would do, I moped around the visitor center for a few minutes before I found out that the orientation was to be held in the Von Karman Auditorium. There was a nice big sign that directed us towards the auditorium that my eyes had conveniently missed.

Cool videos were projected, boring Powerpoints were presented, ignored rules are laid down. We can’t sell our research to foreign governments, play World of Warcraft on company time and computers, torrent movies (not that I was planning on watching anime at work), or sleep. (Blogging was never disallowed :D) My boss is cool, my coworkers are friendly, my section manager is awesome (totally reminds me of Ms. Chen, our music director, who by the way was re-hired… congratulations!), and life’s great — the greatness of life rears its head in some way or another every day.

The internet here is mad fast. Yay for government/military-quality connection. Speaking of internet, I need to move to Sweden. AT&T hasn’t even released an LTE phone yet, and average speeds aren’t going to top 10Mbps anyways… America is sad. Especially judging from past experience. If I get to check out Estonia next year (43rd IPhO), maybe I’ll like it so much I’ll apply for a green card.

After a wonderful three days on the job with my professor gone, familiarizing myself with my new environment, getting my office workstation set up with Ubuntu 10.04 (god bless he who has granted Linux unto my humble PC), meeting new people, and nearly killing myself driving to and from work multiple times… after three days on the job, I got five days of vacation. Now how may this be, you may ask. We have a wonderful little policy here called RDO (Regular Day Off) in which we get every other Friday off. In addition, this was Independence Day weekend, so Friday and Monday were off anyways. So in total, five days off. After three days of work. Brilliant. I wish every week were like this.

So what do I do with my five days? I visit Stanford!

(This was post #321. Brought to you by The Common Application and the letter Q.)