Global Roommates

by Mia
I have always thought that I was the most independent member of my family. On school trips and when I visited my Auntie in Shanghai, I never missed my parents; in fact, I almost never even thought about them. Now, I miss tham all the time, especially when I feel upset and hopeless. Sometimes when there is nobody by my side, I want to talk to someone who cares and understands me well. When I want to cry, there is no shoulder for me to rely on. In a house full of people, I feel so alone! These days, Iíve been having some problems getting along with my foreign friends here. I am struggling to accept their cultures, which are different from mine.

My three roommates come from Japan, Korea and the US. My Japanese roommate misunderstands the meaning of my messages, and this has distanced her from me. She is very quiet, so I donít like to speak with her a lot because it feels like Iím the only one talking. Consequently we both seem to be paying a lot of attention to each otherís body language. I can never tell if she is happy or sad, and when I smile at her, she seems to think Iím teasing her. Well, Iíve discovered that body language is much more than nodding yes or no. And it really isnít universal.

My Korean roommate always complains that my things are messy and that I donít clean up the kitchen after cooking. I think Iím neater than I ever was when I was living at home. Are our values so different that she sees a mess where I see a neat and clean kitchen? I know I sometimes do something wrong like leaving my jacket on the couch or leaving the milk on the table, but she acts like the world will end because there are crumbs on the table.

I hate to say it, but I understand the American roommate the least. Her moods change 10 times a week, and she talks about her feelings all the time. We have to listen to all her stories about problems with her family and her boyfriend. And I really donít like the fact that her boyfriend comes to our apartment all the time and acts like it belongs to him. Also, she is too intimate with him in front of us. If I had a boyfriend, I would ask him to be very polite in front of my female friends!

Sometime it's hard to be friends with people from different countries. Language differences might be misunderstood, and habit differences can be barriers to friendship. Living in a diverse society is challenging, especially living in the U.S where various religions and ethnicities gather. We have to integrate ourselves into this society, then accept it, respect and love it. It's not easy at all.

I am trying to accept the different cultures of my roommates and all my foreign friends, and we are all trying to get along well with each other. I realize the most important attitude we should have is to respect people, even if they have cultures different from ours. Sometimes I am wondering if I should keep Chinese traditional culture in the U.S or just accept everything here. Iím confused. But Iím very happy that I have the opportunity to study in the U.S. Even though my parents are not by my side now, I can feel that they are with me and giving me love all the time and that they are proud of me for becoming independent and learning how to understand and appreciate the world outsoide of my birth nest.