Reflecting on the people that I have met over my college experience I see a lot of similarities in the roommates that I had my first year at VCU, and the ones that I have now over three years later. The similarities lie in the fact that my roommates have an understanding of their culture and are aware of their ethnic background. I feel like simply knowing where you come from can be a cultural motivation, and this sense of appreciation is evident when my roommates both former and prior talk about their heritage. Becoming a student at VCU instantly diversified my friend group, and unlike the usual roommate pairing I was lucky enough to be given two roommates during my freshman year. One could imagine I was extremely thrilled (quite the contrary) when given the news that I would have to share my living space with not only one but two new ladies in my life. After time that initial feeling of annoyance wore off, because I realized I was given the opportunity to learn about two new cultures. Their ethnic backgrounds were Jamaican and Irish. Unfortunately, being African American has led me to have little information about my ethnic background as my roommates had, but the three of us still had dozens of personal stories to share from our cultural points of view.
While I did enjoy my first two years at college, personally I have recognized more and more that the counter-culture of college is what actually makes the most sense to me, especially in the financial aspect. It is a blessing to be given the opportunity to attend college, especially given the history of blacks and education in this country, but the institutionalization of it all becomes draining when you have to work and juggle school at the same time. Essentially, I decided to go to college more so to live in a different city than the one I grew up in and have new experiences. Looking back, knowing what I know now, I may have considered other options but then I wouldn’t be where I am today. As we know the pressure to be successful is everything in nearly almost all cultures. As my original two roommates and I have grown and matured we realize that our decisions may not have been as innately determined as we thought, and as I move into the workforce post-graduation, I will aim to keep the sources of my cultural production authentic. Currently, my roommates are of Caribbean and African decent and we often talk about the differences in expectations from our parents. The expectations that they feel from their family are stronger and larger than what I’ve felt from my family, and they often feel suffocated by the conversations surrounding their current and future achievements. Looking from the outside in it can be easy to become envious of others culture as someone with little information on their own, but I do believe that the space that my parents give me to figure out what works best will ultimately lead me to self-discovery and success.