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Jul 15 2017
by Syeda Anjum

From My Desi Lifestyle to College Dorming

By Syeda Anjum - Jul 15 2017
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The whole gravity of dorming didn't hit me until several weeks ago, when prom and graduation were just around the corner. And while I did apply to college in some far-off places, I thought deep down that I'd stay in the city. It's something my parents would've preferred and honestly, it's convenient. But much to my surprise, I would ultimately spend my first year on campus.

No teen is ever 100 percent ready for the college life, especially when it means leaving a familiar household. Truth be told, my situation isn’t all that bad: My house would still only be an hour-long train ride away. But as someone whose lifestyle is so ingrained in her family’s culture, the prospect of being so utterly independent just sounds surreal. And by independent, I don’t just mean self-care without parental supervision. It has more to do with social interaction and interpersonal relationships.

As a Bengali-American, I’m accustomed to doing literally everything with my family, from biweekly gatherings with the mom’s-brother’s-niece’s-grandparents to visiting colorful street fairs. With cousins and siblings constantly running around my apartment, I’ve never truly been alone. There’s a constant stream of background noise, whether it be my mom talking on the phone or my brother rage-quitting over a video game. Even if everyone is just lazing around in the living room, we always have Bollywood music blasting from the television. Sometimes I try to sing along, but half of the lyrics come out as gibberish.

There are many things that I’m going to miss, regardless of whether or not I’m a fan of it. For instance, there’s my mom’s whole cooking process. She knows I’m pretty bad at preparing Indian cuisine, but I’m still in the kitchen for the most part. I’m either tasting the curry for salt (I’m insanely picky) or I’m pretending to be useful by peeling the shells off pistachio nuts. Regardless, I’m always watching her stir the meats, rice and veggies, somewhat in the hopes of learning vicariously through her.

The one thing I’m going to miss the most is my precious coconut oil. All South Asians are accustomed to their parents lecturing them for having the slightest bout of dry hair. Thankfully, the remedy is simple enough: The good ole scalp massage. Late at night, after I’m done cramming for an exam, my mom would force me to sit down as she rubbed the oils into my roots. It’s the best thing ever. And now that I think ahead for college, I know I’m going to need self-care more than ever. But honestly, what are the odds of massaging my scalp myself? The likelihood of that happening is probably in the negatives.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m super excited about going away for college. I’m terrified too, but dorming is still something I’d want to cross off my bucket list. However, I’m not really sure about how well I’d cope without having all these familiar sights and scents from home. I’m not sure if I can go on without having my family partake in their daily habits and traditions. That’s why I’m glad my parents will try to drag me home every other week. Sure, I’ll whine about them being too clingy, but honestly, I am too.

Lead Image Credit: Pexels

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Syeda Anjum - Barnard College

Syeda Anjum is a freshman at Barnard College of Columbia University majoring in film studies with the pre-med track. She is a huge Harry Potter fan and she loves to spend her time tutoring kids. Syeda's hobbies include trying to maintain a bullet journal, watching gameplays on YouTube, and snuggling with cats.

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