- Students use alternative art materials for one-night-only exhibition June 18
- Digital Media wins national prize for TEDxBirmingham video
- Trip to New York brings national attention to Birmingham renaissance
- Clothes that work for new grads hitting the market
- Hagel emphasizes leadership to Naval Academy graduates
- Birmingham Chosen To Host 2015 C-USA Basketball Championships
- On The Money: How new graduates can take on the job market
- Canvas unrolled for new school year
- Tornadoes Leave Trail of Devastation (Photos)
- Campus closes early Tuesday due to severe thunderstorm
- Alabama does a double take: ‘Urinetown: the Musical’ hits home twice
- A+ Performance by Legend
- UAB Women’s Softball defeat Charlotte 49ers (8-0)
- A Fun and Fluffy Study Break In Lister Hill
- UAB Earth Month Festival
Viewpoint: Celebrating the culture shock UAB offers
I met an interesting the other day. He asked me my race, and I told him I was Indian. He followed up my answer with “So you speak Muslim?”
At the time, I thought it was hilarious. We were on the freshman river rafting trip and I laughed for five minutes straight, for once distracted from the mosquitoes and the cold. He was a pretty nice guy, but he was terribly misinformed. This happened during the second week of school, and I had been hit with so much diversity when I first got here that I was shocked at his honest mistake. No need to worry though, because I sat down and explained the fact that a Muslim is a person who believes in the teachings of Islam, and being Indian does not entail this. I decided to explain to him the Hindu-Muslim conflict another day.
His question made me wonder how he was raised and where he studied. How did he get to this point? I may never find the answer to that, but I did learn something from him. I may have once thought it was unacceptable that he did not know the basics of my culture, but I realized that knowledge is just a pebble in the sea of ignorance we all swim in before leaving our home and seeing what the world has to offer. UAB strives to make sure that we leave here with a greater understanding of culture.
Ever since I arrived on campus, I find that social norm and etiquette that define us as a community at UAB tend to drive us apart everywhere else. It forces everyone to learn how to keep an open mind at all times, especially when meeting people. The nature of the student body population here comes extremely close to the vision that a lot of communities strive for, a place where everyone is given a chance to prove himself, regardless of background or belief. I’ve spent my first week overwhelmed, grateful, and astounded at UAB, all because of the way students create a joint effort to strive for greatness, whether it be in values or the student organizations. All of us freshman are in the same boat, coming out of our comfort zones to start a new life. The only reason the boat seems to stay afloat is most likely due to all of us collectively embracing the diversity at UAB. I have learned a lot, but most importantly, I have found that there is so much I have yet to learn.
Study abroad and other programs are meant to solve issues exactly like the one displayed by the poor guy who asked me if I “spoke Muslim.” Even if it is just moving from the South to the North to take a few classes, there are invaluable lessons that we can only learn when moving to a different place. When we leave the world that our parents or guardians have built for us, we each find different things. Those of us who find a culture shock would benefit the most from the diversity of UAB.
By: Surabhi V. Rao