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Becoming An Adult in a Foreign Country

table rock state park becoming an adult

This evening, I signed my first house lease… ever. Never in a million year did I ever think that I would one day sign a house lease in the US. As the house owner explained the terms of the rental contract, and I wrote out my check for the security deposit, I felt the familiar sense of panic and unsureness rising in me. This was the same panic and unsureness that I felt when I…

…arrived in the OKC airport one August evening in 2013 and wondered if the person who was supposed to meet me would be able to find me because I wasn’t wearing an OBU shirt.
…navigated opening a bank account, buying a new cellphone, paying taxes, etc. all in a different country with an unfamiliar currency.
…realized that the tuition and fees listed on the OBU website deceivingly did not include many other hidden costs and that I might possibly have to take out a student loan.
…sat in front of my financial aid adviser, and she curtly told me that there were no scholarships I could apply for even though I had a perfect GPA, and then took away a loan form I had filled out because I “wasn’t supposed to have it.”
…walked back to my dorm room after that meeting and started crying on the way.
…spent days agonizing over where I could get money while a fine was imposed, adding to the amount I couldn’t pay, because I had not paid the tuition bill in time.
…got into a mad scramble to find somewhere where I could spend the summer of my first year in the US in.
…took the public transportation in Atlanta, GA alone, and found myself at a dark, deserted train station where a mentally unstable man spoke to me as I ran up the endlessly high escalator as quickly as possible so that I could exit the station.
…took on job after job just to pay the bills, while refusing to go into student debt because I know there’s a possibility I might not be able to repay the debt since finding a job while on an international visa is a huge challenge.
…got accosted while walking on campus in the night alone because the possibility of being attacked in a foreign country is a very scary thought.
…am unhelpfully told that it’s okay if my GPA can’t get me more scholarships because in the end, the 4.0 will look good on my resume.
…become terrified at the mere thought of driving when I used to love driving so much back home.
…have to carefully plan my grocery lists and meals so that I can eat balanced meals, while also saving as much money as possible.
…went to the Southwest Airlines website and booked myself a flight ticket back to OKC from GA.
…taught myself how to pay my bills online and enroll in auto-pays.

This list only contains things I can think off my head now. But my point is this: no one told me that although leaving my teen years, becoming an adult, and doing adult things in a foreign country by myself would be a daunting and frightening experience, it has also taught me to be strong, independent, and responsible.

I’m not going to lie and say that there aren’t days when I see my roomies come back from a trip home with sack loads of groceries bought by their parents, and I don’t find myself wishing that my parents are here to buy my groceries for me. Or that I don’t wish that my mom is here when I have to pack up all my things at the end of the semester or year, and I find myself staring at my possessions, amazed I have accumulated so many things, but also wondering at the huge task of packing all of them up.

But even when these times happen, I am fully aware that people go through different stages when they leave their parents’ home. For me, it meant a complete “cut-off” without the opportunity to return on long weekends or holidays. This complete “cut-off” has been torrid at times. There are days when I want to curl under my blankets and forget about “being an adult.” Then again, there are days when I feel proud of myself for how far I have come and the progress I have made since August 2013.

No one said that “being an adult” is easy. But it’s going to happen for everyone… eventually… at some point in their lives. Mine came sooner than later. And as I sit back and feel the panic and unsureness about whether I’d made the right decision to rent a house, I realize that this is just one speed bump in my life. There has been many others before this, and there will be many others in the future. Because after all, “being an adult” means making decisions with consequences, and living and learning with those decisions.

The Boyfriend Dilemma

cooking over campfire

No “wifeherup” hashtags, please!

Lately, I’ve been thinking about this particular problem a lot. It has bugged me ever since the semester started. It’s called “the guy craziness.”

Ever since coming to OBU, I’ve been shocked by how crazy and desperate girls are when it comes to the boyfriend topic. It’s no secret that there are some girls who come here to get their MRS degrees, but the desperation I see in them astounds me.

Things were so much different back home (I know I keep referring to “back home.” I can’t help it). Maybe it’s because of the particular group of friends I knew in Malaysia. Maybe it’s because of the traditional Asian view that marriage should only come after graduation and a stable job. Maybe it’s because of the Ring by Spring tradition found in Baptist universities here. Maybe it’s because of peer pressure – a girl feels the need to have a boyfriend because her friends are dating. Or maybe it’s because of the culture here.

Whatever the reasons are, I wish this wasn’t the case. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not against dating or getting a boyfriend in college. I think it’s great if you have a boyfriend. I think it’s great if you don’t have one.

What I don’t like is the expectation placed on a girl by her peers. She’s expected to have a boyfriend. If she doesn’t have a boyfriend, no problem…her friends will help her find one. And by helping her, I mean listing out the names of single guys that they know and suggesting potential boyfriends. Stop it! You might have good intentions, but it only makes the girl feel worse about it.

What happened to college being a place for learning and gaining experience that will help someone find a job? When did college become a place to find a husband?

If you don’t believe me, go to Instagram. If I get a dollar for every time I see a single girl post a picture with the hashtag #wifeymaterial, I wouldn’t need the 3 jobs that I’m working now. I’ve even seen a #wifeherup hashtag. I cringe at such shameless calls for a boyfriend.

Honestly, ladies, that isn’t attractive at all. You’re not going to get a boyfriend just because you post pictures of how domestic you are. It doesn’t work that way. A guy is going to have to fall for you because of your beautiful character, and not because you posted a picture on Instagram of some fancy cuisine dish that you made.

This problem has bothered me a lot. Hence, this post. I must confess – after more than a year at OBU, I’m tired of this. I want to have a conversation that doesn’t inadvertently include the topic of how cute So-and-So is or anything related to dating and prospective boyfriends. Considering my social circumstances (more about this later…maybe), is going to be hard to find, but I can still hope, right?

Side note: In case you haven’t realized, my blog posts are going to display raw honesty. I want my blog posts to be an unfiltered lens into my world. I might be unintentionally offensive sometimes, but if you’re one of my friends in OBU, just know that nothing here is a reference to you.