Kira Gregory grew up in the culturally rich environment of Hong Kong thinking she understood United States culture. Until she decided to attend Colorado State University (CSU) and experienced a dramatic contrast to her preconceived ideas. The second part of the three part series will be looking at Gregory’s move and her cultural shift when attending CSU.
Gregory’s Decision to Move to the United States
Being a TCK , growing up and living in a country separate from her parent’s passport country, Kira Gregory was now taking on a new battle of immersing herself into United States culture for her college career. After deciding not to attend a European University, Gregory knew she would be stepping out on a limb. Especially to go across the world to attend higher education in the U.S. Gregory ended up selecting Colorado State for the gorgeous scenery, engaging culture, and notable education.
She explains her reasoning for why she chose a U.S. school over a British school. ” I always identified more with my dad’s culture than my mom’s culture, I did not really connect or like visiting Germany. American culture was the neatest culture. I grew up around a lot of British influence, but I never felt I belonged in that. They have a drier humor. They are also more individualist, and I like the U.S. because I feel that it has a very warm, community-centered culture.” However, Gregory did not realize how much different living in the U.S. would be from what the small experiences she had visiting it growing up. Stating in the interview, “I thought I knew what to expect.”
Moving here, she assumed she would automatically fit into American culture. Afterall, her dad was from the U.S. and she had visited numerous times growing up. However, she quickly realized there were so many differences internally from her peers, stating, “I thought I was a lot more American than I actually was. But, for my first year in college, it was a huge culture shock.” Gregory explains that some of the most shocking aspects about the U.S. that she had not previously noted included the abundance of cars owned and driven by her friends. Gregory states “I did not have a driver’s license; I only took public transportation. In Hong Kong it is almost less intelligent to own a car than to take public transportation.”
Other noticeable differences she cites especially pertaining to other people lies in upbringing. Gregory explains that those around her would bring up what seemed to them to be universal childhood experiences. Unfortunately, many of them Gregory could not relate to or chime in on. Still, she was happy with her choice to attend Colorado State University. Gregory looked forward to what her freshman year had to offer.
Gregory’s Attempt at Greek Life
After settling into her dorm room, Gregory signed up for fall sorority recruitment. She made this decision in hopes of finding a community and a place she felt she belonged. However, after joining, her culture differences became prominent. She did not communicate in the same as the other girls. Especially with being much more blunt and not able to sugar coat things in the same way.
Gregory felt different. Explaining, “I had an idea that people did not like me because I came from a different background.” She felt lost and somewhat hopeless. Gregory began questioning her decision to attend Colorado State University that she once felt so sure of. She reflects on her transition, “My parents were all the way across the world. I cried every night.” She felt as if she did not have anyone to turn to. Gregory did not know where she fit in.
Finding Her Crew
Discovering sorority life was not for her, Gregory knew she needed a support system. She decided to go about making friends in a more slow but natural way. Gregory eventually formed an extremely tight knit group of friends. She largely started finding them through her coworkers and those living close to her.
Gregory explains that her friends valued her differences and thought they were unique and wanted to know more about them. At the same time, they never looked at Gregory as any less of a friend due to her being from Hong Kong.
Eventually discovering that she “noticed the difference more than others, but once I realized that others did not notice, I was more comfortable.” Gregory began to discover her identity. She knew she was never going to blend in completely with her unique background, but she started to find beauty in her differences, just like her close friends did.