Sunday, October 23, 2005

it is a weird time..

Being on an exchange is a weird time. After talking to exchange students here at penn and overseas, I concluded that there is just no way to explain the feeling of being on exchange except weird.

Cl: It's like you have to live up to the expectations of being an exchange student.
Me: Like partying 24/7, not going for any classes and travelling the entire continent?
Cl: Precisely, there is a pressure to do that.

Because no exchange student blogs about lonely nights and days when you feel like the world has died on you. No exchange student will tell you about feeling as if they are trapped in a time warp and the rest of the world has moved on without them. No exchange student will blog about struggling with school and work and just how much difference it makes to spell in a different system and to try to tell your friends what is the weather coz no one here talks in celsius.

No one talks about how being on exchange makes you question who you are. Intrinsically. After stripping off school, church, friends and work. After you are not allowed to use abbreviations to describe yourself. Because in a foreign land, uprooted with no time to grow any roots in the first place, we exchange students are but shifting husks blown through a forest of trees and saplings. You've got no identity. No one knows your past or your future. No one knows about your family, your friends or even if you existed in the first place. You are only that exchange student from country X who will be here for X amount of time with that strange/funny/amusing accent. You are just an entity with a history that began here and now and that will end in a year's time.

As that husk, who are you?

Interesting, because isn't that how life essentially is?

"its like the politically correct answer to the question: How is your exchange? is I'm having the time of your life. Not that we aren't, but that it would be politically wrong to say: I hate it here, I wish everyone here was dead and I can't wait to go home."


Ash said...

Really? I remember Patey having such times :P And she had a lot of a past and a future. True I don't remember most exchange students though.

You don't really need people to verify your existence. In relative terms, they are only people whom you will know for X amount of time from X place who think you have a funny accent.

:) People are more than that. You and them.

cherry said...

hee...i know..and i do love and care for my friends here...its just painful that your tangible presence won't be around after a year.

But its good to feel rootless and identity-less sometimes - good soul searching "who am i? what do i want?" kind of way

Ash said...

I guess it's almost like being given a clean slate.
If suddenly no one knew who you were. You suddenly could be whoever or whatever what you want, who would you be?

patey said...

hello hello..
interesting to me that I saw my name posted there...
seriously though vong, I'm probably not one to be comparing myself to...I'm pretty ABnormal sometimes...
but I can see how cherry would say that. There's something thrilling about being reinventable...but sometimes that's when you're most like yourself.
BUT novelties do wear off sometimes eventually...
do enjoy your time...and do take the time to reflect on who you are wherever you are in the world...

patey said...

me again, actually you would probably benefit from reading the blog I had while I was in australia...all sorts of crazy ass musings of the like...but it's kinda personal, but lemme know if you really want to...
but in the meantime, you can read about me post australia...
love love love

cherry said...

hey patey and vongie!!

Yeah..its interesting cuz its like now without any social restrictions or responsibilities, i can be who i just wondering if this person is really me or someone i wanted to be but couldn in the past.

I would love to read your blog patey!! send me your addy to my email??