Musings from the middle

I’m halfway done with my internship, and a large part of me is already disappointed about the prospect of going back home. It’s kind of like eating the first half of a Kit Kat. You know the end is near, but you still have enough keep you satisfied, at least for the moment.

Being Indian American, I’ve often wondered what my life would be like if my parents never emigrated to the US. What kind of person would I be? Would I have the same motivations in life? Would I have learned how to swim? (yes, I can’t swim. Don’t tell anyone). So much of our personalities are shaped by our environment, and I think it’s even more so the case when you grow up as a minority in a country like America. Maybe I would’ve been more outgoing if I was raised in India, where everyone looks like me. I’d probably have closer, more long-lasting friendships and better ties with my relatives. I’ve always thought I had the longer end of the stick, living in a first world country and enjoying all its amenities and the freedoms of being American. But being here makes me realize that I’ve also missed out on a lot of little things in life: for example, holidays. American holidays, like Christmas and Thanksgiving, aren’t the same without generations of family traditions, and we never get the opportunity to celebrate Hindu festivals with the same pomp that they have in India.

Is it worth it, living in America? I’ll never know, since my whole life has been spent in the US (but if we want to be religious, I’ve most likely also had a past life as an Indian– as well as a turtle or something, probably).  Don’t get me wrong, I love my life in the States, and I think the diversity of our nation is something incredibly beautiful. I’m definitely lucky to have the privilege of living there– it’s an experience millions of kids wish for. However, my time in India so far has taught me that it’s not all black and white: despite the US being a more “developed” nation, there are certain things I’ll never get to have as an American.

Featured picture: Me in Agra, at Agra Fort (very aptly named)

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About varshinigali

Penn class of 2020, majoring in Health and Societies, interning at the Public Health Foundation of India.