Welcome to UAlbany! I know people say NYC is a melting pot but I personally believe UAlbany is even more so. No one really has the opportunity to stay within their own exclusive group, we are all together here. This is one of the things I was most excited for when I moved here for school. I grew up in a small county where diversity was not all that prevalent, and when there was some diversity, people stuck to their own groups and didn’t really explore outside of them. I was itching to explore though. I was kind of sick and tired of hearing the same streamlined thoughts over and over again.
As soon as I moved to Albany, I was introduced to all sorts of different cultures. There were religions I had never heard of before or even bothered to explore. There were plenty more liberals and points of views than I was used to hearing. There was music I had never heard of before and dance moves I had only seen on the television. Right now, you must think I’m crazy and live under a rock, but I can promise you, this perspective is flipped around. When I met my new friends from the city, they were shocked at the stories of how I lived. They wondered how I got by with minimal internet or no public transportation. They wondered why the closest dance club was a 45-minute drive away. To be honest, it was rather hilarious.
When I first saw these new ways of living, I was honestly in culture shock. Things were noisier and people talked using different slang terms that I didn’t understand. People were saying I had an accent but I had never heard anyone pronounce “coffee” like “cough-ee.” I felt out of the loop and uninformed and it did feel annihilating. I wasn’t going to crawl back into my comfortable small town group again though. I was determined to learn and grow from this.
I joined the Interfaith Coalition right off the bat. I grew up as a Christian but I wanted to learn about other religions and be open minded to them and support them. I met wonderful people who were associated with all different kinds of faith. I felt relaxed and at ease whenever I associated myself with them. I then joined Peace Action to learn about this liberal point of view. Coming from a small town, a lot of people were conservative. It was refreshing to hear another point of view. Even if I didn’t agree with it, the new friends I made were always open to listen to my points of views as well and we learned from each other in this sense. I took a course with the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center to be Safe Space Trained. I learned a lot about other people’s sexualities and gender identities and I felt much more welcoming of the LGBTQ-plus community. Then of course, lazy but not least, I ate a lot of food. I went to all the different cultural restaurants I could to explore. Back at home I was used to so much Italian food or Texas Steakhouses, but man did my palate change in Albany.
Culture clash can be overwhelming and it can be hard to accept a different way of living than your used to, but the only way you can find happiness in your environment is to talk to different people. Listen to people. Don’t talk over them. They might have something important to share that can benefit you.