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From SoCal to the Bay: How I Embraced My Culture Thus Far

Growing up in San Diego, CA, I got my fair share of beach days and visited some of California’s best tourist attractions. As much as I loved home, in much of my youth, I realized I was one of the few Asian students in my class. At times I was one of the few Asian kids in the entire school. Being a minority in a learning environment has taught me multiple things. Some of them relate to my social interaction with peers and others relate to my own connection to my culture. 

Culture Shock

When searching for colleges to apply to I knew I wanted to be in an environment heavy in diversity and culture. I once thought Southern California to be diverse, that is until I moved to San Jose for my first year of college. My first day on campus was the first time I had seen so many people that looked like me. I felt a surge of excitement finally being in a diverse environment where I could connect to my culture further. As San Jose is predominantly an Asian populated community and being a woman of mixed race, I became insecure about my lack of connection to my Asian side. I felt both like I belonged here and as an outsider. 

Whitewashed

It never occurred to me growing up that I was “whitewashed.” I was often the butt of tasteless jokes about my race and eventually got used to it. So moving up to the Bay Area, I was excited to meet others of the same race. However, when trying to connect with more Asian students I realized I felt out of place yet again. In fact, the first time I felt this way was when I was referred to as “whitewashed” in a group of new friends. Right then I felt disappointed since I believed I could relate more to these new faces than acquaintances back home.

Rather than get offended and storm off, I accepted the fact I wasn’t as in tune with my culture as I thought I was. Trying to find out more about my heritage and meet new people, I joined the Filipino club, Akbayan. Originally it was a great outlet to find new friends and adapt to the social aspect of university life. The club eventually held events surrounding Asian culture campus. Students were able to sit in lecture halls while listening members give history presentations as well as interactive activities to learn and embrace our Asian backgrounds. 

Culture Exposure

With the lack of crash course videos on Filipino culture, I found myself constantly learning from my friends. Whether it was from learning to cook my mom’s Filipino specialties (aka the best adobo and sisig on the planet) or even learning more Tagalog. I previously wrote an article on the Netflix series Trese, a series depicting Filipino mythology. Watching the series I felt a deeper understanding of Filipino storytelling. I started to remember the mythological creatures my family members once warned me about back in the Philippines. Writing about my culture was another way for me to connect on a deeper level with my Asian side. 

That Bay Area Feel

Being in Northern California for two years has taught me so much about the vast cultures that make up the Bay Area lifestyle. Moving to San Jose, there was so much music, art, style, and food I was introduced to. Surprisingly enough these aspects have flourished from multiple backgrounds. I love music of all genres, so coming to the Bay I became more familiar with artists such as Kehlani, Iamsu!, Guapdad 4000, Drino and more.

Overall coming to the Bay Area has really helped me get in touch with my Filipino roots. Living in a new environment also educated me on how rich Bay Area culture truly is. Becoming a young adult in the Bay has also influenced my creative outlet in aspects, such as writing, I wouldn’t have discovered back in SoCal. 

Let us know your thoughts on Bay Area culture by tagging @HerCampusSJSU!

20 year old Kinesiology student at SJSU looking to explore writing as a creative outlet.
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