Ah culture. A word so often talked about in our increasingly globalized society. It used to be that people just identified with the culture that they grew up in.
But now with the new trend of migration, globalized media, and interracial marriages, many people have increasingly begun to identify with more than one culture. I am one of these people.
I am of Indian origin, yet I grew up in the United Arab Emirates. I attended an Indian school but learnt both Hindi and Arabic. And along with the cultures of my country of origin and country of residence, I was also exposed to American and British culture through the endless stream of movies and television shows I watched.
When I came to America to study, I often felt at a loss for words whenever I was asked where I was from. The eternal question of whether I’d reply with my country of residence or country of origin continually plagued and confused me.
Once I was here, American customs were relatively easy for me to pick up. I grew up idealizing this country and its customs and its slang. I made friends with both Americans and internationals and, both groups would comment and laugh about how much more American I was than even the Americans in our group!
To this day, it is hard for me to pick a place I call home. I see people talking with pride about their culture, but it isn’t quite as easy for me. I am Indian because my parents are Indian, and while I adore the food, the music and the festivals, I have never lived in India. I am from the UAE and yet can barely speak Arabic or identify with Arab culture. And while I do love and fit into the individualistic culture of the US, the fact remains that I am still not American.
My cultural identity was always a source of confusion to me, but I am not alone in feeling this way. After years of pondering over where I belong, I simply have come to realize that my heart belongs to multiple cultures and that’s perfectly fine.
Home is where you feel most yourself. I feel like myself when I celebrate Indian festivals and speak in my mother tongue with my family. I feel like myself when I gaze at Dubai’s city skyline and walk through the streets I grew up around. I feel like myself when I chill with my international and American friends here at Creighton. I don’t need to belong to one culture because the truth is I like being a global citizen. I like having multiple places to call home.
So, if you are going through a cultural identity crisis, the most important thing to remember is that the one thing you will always share with other people despite your ethnic roots or place of residence, is the shared sense of humanity that binds us all.