What I’ve Learned This Year - Bertel

By Bertel King, Jr. on September 13, 2013
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This semester, I spent three hours of nearly every Tuesday watching a foreign movie spoken in multiple languages that I do not understand with poorly done subtitles. My Bollywood seminar has only six students in it, and when we are not watching movies, we better be prepared to talk, because there is no covering up unpreparedness in a class that small.

The class comes with a large number of required readings, and the professor does not play around. She does not tolerate the use of laptops, has her students on edge whenever their cell phones vibrate too loudly, and has no qualms with embarrassing an unprepared student.

Her class is focused on material unfamiliar to all six of us, and in many ways, it hints at what to expect in life after college. The world can be both an unfamiliar and unforgiving place.

My relationship

For two and a half years now, I have been in a relationship with an Asian Indian, and while it has been amazing, it is not without its obstacles. Before college, I had never met nor truly thought about Indians and life for them in America.

I come from a rural county and a high school that was roughly evenly divided between African Americans and whites. Even then I dated outside of my race, and that presented its own share of challenges, but it was all pretty familiar.

Life in my new relationship has consistently presented me with culture shock. My girlfriend’s family speaks Telugu at home, is Hindu, and travels more every few months than my family has in my entire life.

While I have every hope that my current relationship will someday result in marriage, I have no idea how I will even begin to talk to parents whose entire concept of dating and marriage is different than that I have been surrounded by.

As I sit in my Bollywood class, hoping that I will take in enough Indian culture to help me take the appropriate steps in the future, I know that in a country as diverse as India, Bollywood’s northern Indian focus has many differences with Telugu’s southern Indian home. I know that I have only begun to understand a culture that is entirely new to me.

Unfamiliar territory

Life this year has been consistently unfamiliar. Last summer, I moved off-campus and have had to juggle the responsibilities of paying for rent, bills, gas, and food.

Then there is the added time drain of cleaning the apartment, preparing meals, and driving to and from campus. I work on-campus at the same time that I am diving deeper into both of my majors.

Everything, from the new environment I find myself living in, to the degree of control I have over my life, and the degree of schoolwork consistently in front of me is unfamiliar terrain. At the same time, any large financial slip-up could send me back to live with my parents, delaying college for another time.

Despite the challenges and setbacks, from initial car problems to large plumbing issues, life has moved on, and I am still here. I have come to believe that as long as I keep pressing forward, regardless of what life throws at me, I will be just fine.

Stay on your feet and I think you will be, too.


 

Check out the following videos where our writers share their most
important piece of advice to their fellow students:

Sharayah Le Leux: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9qvMYFOogA

Ariel Benjamin: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=idSlfYUCq_s

Jordan Sweigart: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CV_J9zjRVo

Megan Lynch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jUDIvjeadS0


About the Author

Bertel King, Jr.

Bertel King, Jr.

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