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International Bruin Spotlight: Yukta Trivedi

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Yukta Trivedi. (Photo courtesy of Ms. Trivedi).

Yukta Trivedi (UCLA 2021), a business economics major and global studies minor, speaks about her experience as an international student at UCLA.

 This article is part of a series created for International Education Week 2020 by the Student Advocacy Committee of the International Student Ambassador Program. The program is an initiative of the Dashew Center for International Students and Scholars.

 

By Yukta Trivedi

I definitely consider myself as being from India, even though I’ve lived in a lot of different countries. I visit India at least once or twice a year, and it’s also the culture I’ve been brought up with in my family. My experiences visiting my home country (India) have definitely been interesting because it does feel like a home country, but at the same time I often feel like a bit of an outsider because I’m not fully fluent in Hindi. So, language is definitely a barrier.

I was born in India, and I lived there for a year and a half. After that, I lived in Indonesia, Singapore, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand and — more recently — the USA. If I had to associate any of those countries with home, it would probably be [a choice] between Singapore and Malaysia. I’ve lived in Singapore for the longest and I spent most of my formative years in both Singapore and Malaysia. I'm super-comfortable in both those countries and have a sense of emotional attachment to them, too.

As an international student at UCLA, there definitely was a culture shock because I hadn’t lived in the U.S. before. The culture of Los Angeles and how it functions was very different from what I was used to. However, UCLA was not as shocking, and I think this was primarily because of its diversity. I felt like I could fit in very well almost immediately. Also, somehow, I managed to find other international students, who are now some of my closest friends. The Dashew Center was definitely a really cool resource to experience international events.

UCLA has helped me be more independent; if you don’t rely on yourself, you can definitely get lost in the whole experience very easily, since it’s such a large campus. I’m always surprised by how many people there are here! But it definitely made me a lot more self-reliant, which I’m super grateful for.

As for my impact here, I believe I’ve brought an international perspective to the different organizations and clubs that I've dabbled in, which has felt like a big contribution to me. Sometimes, there’s a specific perception of international students on campus — not necessarily a good or a bad one— but I was able to add a fresh new international perspective and help model that perception, hopefully in the right direction.

Because everyone at my past schools shared similar experiences to mine, that is, they kept moving throughout the years, UCLA and its people helped me build a new experience, one that allowed me to take my time to really appreciate everything this city and wonderful campus have to offer.

Something pretty unique about being an international student at UCLA is how, despite our community being a minority, there was a huge emphasis on bringing awareness to different cultures around the world. I’ve gotten to go to Garba events and get a taste of home outside of home, explore foods from all around the world at the Dashew Food Fair and celebrate Thanksgiving in true American fashion. None of my prior school experiences revolved around bringing awareness to cultural diversity, but UCLA uniquely adds to international culture and local diasporas.

That being said, being an international student does not come without its challenges, one of the biggest ones being that perception I mentioned before. Breaking that pre-existing perception of international students was quite difficult. A question that I’ve often gotten is: “Where are you from?” And when I reply, saying, “I’m Indian and I’ve lived in such-and-such places,” they’d react by saying, “Wow, your English is so good!”

While the question and response were valid to a certain extent, the underlying assumption that being an international student meant that my English wouldn’t be good, or their shock upon learning that I listen to the same music as them, was not always a pleasant experience. But, knowing that I have been a part of trying to change that perception is gratifying.





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