Moving to Portland from Kosova was not easy; this was not because of the 15-hour journey in the airplane that it takes to get here, but because of the culture shock I faced. Back in the Balkans, for example, social borders are well defined, and everyone knows what to do and what not to do, and how far to go.
Having been brought up with such social expectations, there are many times when I have felt challenged and uneasy by the people here. One of the hardest challenges was getting used to the lifestyles of the people I was living with. Even though these people were usually small families, I found it surprising that not even one member of the family thought the same as the other, everyone had an opinion, a different opinion, and strangely enough to me, they all wanted to do their “thing.”
Back home, however, I was raised to comply with what the others around me agreed on. Rarely did I think twice that I could have my own say. It was those societal expectations that encouraged me to conform, and this is best illustrated by a Japanese proverb, “the nail which sticks out will get hammered.” But here it is different, “The squeaky wheel gets the oil.” In Portland it is even more different, “do your thing,” and “all you need is love, the rest is details,” that was my welcome to PSU.