Tag Archives: adaptation

Southern Hospitality

By Kalan Leaks

[3 minute read]

As I write this, I am realizing that this semester will be my final one as an undergraduate attending the University of Southern California. It’s been quite a journey from being a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed freshman to being a nonplussed engineer with bags under his eyes. Living in Los Angeles has taught me so much about the world as well as myself. Its many charms have won me over despite some of its flaws. However, as the time until graduation slips ever closer, my mind wanders towards my first home in the Southern part of the United States.

I was born in Blytheville, Arkansas, at 11:37 pm on October 28th.  Blytheville is on the northeastern side of Arkansas, so if you wanted to take a quick vacation, Tennessee and Missouri are only minutes away. Arkansas itself has a few interesting, noteworthy quirks. The state gem is a diamond due to the fact that Arkansas is the only state that produces diamonds, and it produces more rice than any other state. Also, for some reason, our state beverage is milk.

Photo by Christian Mack on Unsplash

Blytheville only has a population of around 15,000 people-that’s smaller than USC’s current undergraduate population and almost 3 times smaller than USC’s total student population! If that astonishes you, then you would be surprised to know that the neighboring town of Dell, Arkansas, has a population of only 250 people. Blytheville is a town that takes pride in agriculture and small town charm. You only have to drive a few minutes outside of town before riding along cotton or wheat fields at your side just waiting to be harvested. A benefit of living in a small town is that you get to know everyone in your community. It reminds me of an old television show that would air late at night called Cheers. The theme song would say, “…where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came.” To me, that’s Blytheville.

However, the downside to living in a small town is, ironically, that everyone in the community knows you and your family. If you happen to get into trouble at school, your family will probably hear the story from five different people by the time you get home. So, you have plenty of incentive to be on your best behavior.

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Growing Up Bi-Dialectal and Bi-Accented

By Aishwarya Badanidiyoor

They say language is one of the quickest ways to establish personal connections. Having grown up in multiple countries, adapting to new environments was always a priority of mine, and that meant picking up on the (sometimes subtle) differences in communication between the widely varied cultures and societies that I came across. To give you a little background, I lived in Saudi Arabia for the first ten years of my life, and then moved to India for the rest of middle school. I went to high school in Canada, and then attended Engineering school in India. Currently a master’s student and conversation partner here at USC, I have had the opportunity to meet quite a few international students along the way, and one thing that some of us have in common is our ability to speak multiple dialects/accents of English fluently, due to our diverse upbringing.

I grew up speaking a very neutral Indian accent for the first 9 years of my life, due to my stay in Saudi Arabia. Many people are not aware of this, but Indian accents come in varying flavors, which is why when I moved to India for middle school, my classmates and I had trouble understanding each other for the first few months. When I moved to Canada for high school 4 years later, the differences in accents, phrases, word usage, and intonation (amongst many other things) were quite obvious. Within a few months, my little brother and I had already adapted a neutral general North American accent, garnished with a few of the more obvious characteristics of Canadian English.

Once I moved to a different part of India for Engineering school there was a accent divide between me and my classmates once again. Within the year however, I had molded my tongue into sounding more local without much hassle. This brought about some new challenges for me – I regularly conversed with my Canadian friends in my north american accent, and switched to the new Indian one with my Indian friends.

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Career Fairs are about Seeing Your Skills in a New Light

By Diya Dwarakanath

With the USC Career Fair coming up this week, I know many students will be trying to find internships or full-time jobs for the upcoming semester. This can be daunting for all students but international students have the added burden of finding companies who will accept student visas. Sometimes, it might seem like being an international student only has disadvantages. However, it all depends on your point of view and how well you can sell yourself to an industry recruiter. Try using your international student status as a positive! If you think about it, the fact that you’re here and adjusting to a brand new way of life is telling of your strength in adaptation.

For instance, every time I visit India (every two years or so), it takes me a couple of days to once again become comfortable amidst the order in the chaos that defines Mumbai. But once I do, it all sinks in at a rapid pace. I begin to remember the Indian languages I hear around me. I combat the humidity and sandy roads with cotton clothes and sturdy sandals. I find myself speaking Kannada, a South Indian language, with my grandmother and then quicking turning around and conversing with my cousin in Hindi as we ride an autorickshaw (a three-wheeled taxi) around town. We might enter a beauty salon, where I speak fragmented Marathi (the state language) with the owner, knowing I will get better service. Later that night, I call my dad (who is back in the states) and we talk about my day in English. Finally, In the Mumbai airport, as I’m waiting to fly home, I overhear and understand fragments of a French couple’s conversation.

Then, once I return home to Oregon, I am grateful for hot water that flows out of the sink just by turning on the faucet. I appreciate the high pressure of the water and the fresh, natural air I breathe. I don’t have to turn on a water boiler and wait for it to heat up the water when I want to shower anymore. I also don’t have to wear a scarf to cover my mouth and nose to avoid breathing smog-filled air every time I step outside. But of course, within a couple days, I forget about the physical comforts of being home and take it all for granted. Once again, I’ve re-adapted to the lifestyle in the United States.

All this is something I do naturally so I’ve never thought about it until I had to write about my international experiences for a scholarship opportunity. That’s when I realized that every international student has had this similar experience and that every one of them can use this experience to their advantage.

The ability to quickly understand and successfully adapt to a new environment is CRITICAL in the job market.  A successful new hire or intern will be observant, paying attention to how people do things in their departments so they know what the process is. In addition, they must learn the lingo (or the terms used specific to that company or department) of their new job quickly so that they can integrate into the team. This means listening to others, reading resources available through the company website, and asking their mentors or peers. If they have to work with international clients or colleagues, they must be aware of different work cultures and the time difference. You can’t call your client when it is in the middle of the night for her or him!

Guess what? An international student does all of these things naturally! When they move to the U.S., they learn American colloquialisms by listening and being observant. They plan their Skype sessions with family and friends back home, just like you might plan a web conference with colleagues at work. An international student is already well-equipped to be a successful intern or new hire. Now, it’s up to you to help an industry recruiter understand just how valuable you truly are.

Read up about the Career Fair here: https://careers.usc.edu/students/info/careerfair

Featured image from DynamicPickaxe

Diya is a second-year graduate student doing her Master’s in Biomedical Engineering. She also did her undergraduate degree from USC so she knows her way around campus, including some of the best study spots! Diya is from Oregon originally, but was born in India and moved to the U.S. when she was young so she knows what it is like to be in a new country. After graduating, she worked for two years at a medical device start-up and at a large technology company. In her free time, you’ll find Diya writing, dancing (she’s a trained Indian classical dancer but loves any style), going shopping, or watching TV/movies.