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Valerie Cai

Year 3

5 April 2022

Valerie Cai

When I moved to the UK for university when I was 19, I spent most of my first year wondering why I had moved here. For all of my life, I had gone to American-English speaking schools in China, where everyone looked and sounded like me, and it was common to have a very international background. When I moved to the UK, I was faced with many difficult questions that I had never been asked before, “Where are you from?“, “Why is your English so good?“, “What is China like?“. Although most of these questions were innocuous, they somehow made me feel othered and more often than not, were conversation enders rather than conversation starters. People couldn’t seem to understand that who I was had very little to do with my national identity, and where I grew up was rarely my home. Even though London touts itself as being one of the most international cities in the world, it didn’t stop me from feeling isolated, isolation that eventually turned into depression.

After the first, and worst year of my life in the UK, I eventually began to make close friends and embrace my life in the UK. It wasn’t easy, but eventually I stopped needing to try to fit in, and fitting in just became second nature. After 6 years in the UK, when people ask me where I’m from, I say London (regardless of the fact that I’m not a British citizen). I thought I would end this blurb just by saying, you don’t need a reason to be anywhere geographically in the world. Home is what you make of a place, not somewhere you were born.

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