by Tanya Alconcel, Hawaii, U.S.A
Leaving my home state of Hawaii to come to Notre Dame was the biggest culture shock of my life, which isn’t something you might expect since Hawaii is still part of the U.S. But the environment, the people, and the culture at Notre Dame was completely different from island life. Although it was extremely disconcerting at first, I think it was my curiosity and excitement of being in a new place, experiencing a new culture, and meeting new people, that helped me overcome my initial fear and thrive in this new environment. I stepped out of my comfort zone to talk to lots of different people, join lots of different clubs, and even try several different majors to learn and experience lots of different things, and that would be my biggest piece of advice to new students today.
Meeting and connecting with new people who were ethnically, religiously, and even economically different from me was a challenge. But instead of letting my differences hinder me from connecting with people, I used it to my advantage as a great token of interest in conversation, because people were really interested to hear about Hawaii and my culture. Be proud of yourself and where you come from, because I think people at ND really appreciate diversity and want to learn more about you! And remember that despite any ostensible differences, we’re all Irish.