Be American or Be Myself

It is said that Spring Weekend is the most popular event at Brown. However, being the “most popular” event doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone will enjoy it.

One time, these concerts with endless music and relentless waves of excitement all around campus lasted till Sunday evening.

I didn’t go to the concert.

That afternoon, I hesitated over whether to go or not when I heard my American friends in my class excitedly talking about their dresses, the music and all the wild things they want to do. However, when I saw the over-excited crowd and heard the deafening music as I walked passed Main Green (where the concert was held), I decided to go back to my dorm. I could understand that it was Spring Weekend and people wanted to have fun, but I guess I would rather prefer to have fun in different way.

When I went back to the dorm, I suddenly had a very lonely feeling.

The hallway was unusually quiet, so I was afraid that I might be the only one in the whole building while all the others were having fun at the concert. I had very mixed feelings at the time: I didn’t like loud music, so I wouldn’t be happy at the concert, but now when I finally found a quiet place in the dorm, I felt equally unhappy, because I felt myself isolated.

Fortunately, I wasn’t the only one in the dorm, there were still a few who didn’t go to the concert: my roommate was simply reading in the room, the Indian guy on my floor went to do his computer science project, and some went to watch a movie instead of going to concert. When I talked with a few Asian American friends in my dorm, they told me that they didn’t like the concert either even though most of the other people enjoyed it. I felt much better while talking with them, but still I couldn’t get over the feeling of standing on the outside looking in.

When I was in high school in China, I always regarded myself as pretty much the same with everybody else. However, after coming to the United States, I gradually discovered that in almost every sense, I couldn’t be considered as among the mainstream. I’m an international student, English is not my first language, I don’t like parties, I don’t drink, I don’t follow fashion trends—I am really so different from a typical American college student in most people’s eyes. I sometimes wonder if I should change myself to be more “American”, but I failed because I simply couldn’t force myself to do the things that I don’t like. That doesn’t mean that I refuse to change or that I isolate myself from American culture. I’m still willing to communicate with different people and try out different things, but I gradually figured out that I just don’t enjoy doing every aspect of the American culture.

So for me, I get along much better with Chinese, Asian Americans and international students, because we seem to share more things in common and I find it more comfortable hanging out with them. I had some good American friends in the classroom, but outside the classroom, I rarely hang out with them. It seems bad, but when I think about this problem again—I’m friendly with my American friends even though we don’t usually hang out together because our interests are too different. I realize that I don’t have to force myself to change in order to be among the mainstream—I discover that it isn’t that bad after all.

While I’m here in America, the most important thing to is to remain true to myself, rather than to become someone I am not.

Fang, Beijing

Fang Guo

Fang is a senior at Brown University. You can contact Fang Guo at