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Thoughts on being Different

So one of the things I noticed is that I am really happy here, even though I think I'd prefer to be in America. I think that everyone needs to have an experience, prolonged if possible, where they are completely and undeniably different from everybody else. I tried to assimilate to Welsh ways, but I'm an American, and so...I am actually kind of finding out what makes me happy, and what I want to do with my life, and who I really am. That's one of the things that is so great about External Studies. Not only are you studying something that you're interested in, but you are doing it somewhere where you can't be anything but what you are. That's a weird, new-agey kind of notion, but it is true. I don't know if I would have had this kind of experience at, say, Semester at Sea, or studying at another school in the States, like some other people do. Nor would I have had this experience in Italy, or France, or Spain, where I would have been relatively unable to cope with the languages, even if I had taken lots of lessons and boned up on my language skills. I'm ridiculously glad that I chose Wales, because on the one hand, it's very similar to the US in the language, the amount of Western-ness, and many aspects of the culture...but, on the other hand, it's also radically different from anything I've ever experienced. I'm suddenly in a place where I am being scrutinized because of my accent and way of dressing, but at the same time, I'm accepted. I feel like I have to put effort into everything that I do, because I am suddenly representing lots of people in the States (in the eyes of the Europeans), but at the same time, I can't remake myself into anything that I am not, but I just have to be an American Andrew. I remember reading that when Ben Franklin went to France, he wore coon-skin caps and frontier uniforms, because everyone in France thought that that was how Americans were, and took much more interest in him when they found that he was different, rather than simply a regular descendent of the British Isles. I guess that I could try to fit into Welsh and British society...but I don't want to, because that doesn't fit me.