Stepping Outside My Comfort Zone

“I just walked into a school filled with rich kids that don’t have to work for anything.”

Hold a Conversation

In addition to the questions below, please see How to use the questions for reflection.

Clarifying Questions

  • What are some of the things the speaker was expecting when she first arrived at Valparaiso University? What was she not expecting?
  • Why does she use the term “small” to describe her experience?
  • What’s the equivalent of move-in day where you live or work?

Interpretive Questions

  • What does the speaker’s experience make you think about the way we welcome new people?
  • What should we focus on when people enter a community?
  • How did her realization that she was prejudging other African-American students change the way she approached living in community?
  • How do we talk about possessions? Is drawing attention to our possessions ever inappropriate? In which contexts?
  • What can we learn from the speaker’s desire to be adventurous?

Let us know how the conversation or self-reflection went. Email us or discuss the experience in our comment box.

Transcript for Stepping Outside My Comfort Zone

The first time I ever visited Valpo was for FOCUS, when I was already enrolled in the school and planned to come here. It was definitely a change, like, I’ve always heard that African-Americans are a minority, but I’ve never experienced it. Everywhere I grew up, we were the majority, and coming here and being at FOCUS, I probably seen three other African-Americans and probably seven minorities in total. So that was a huge culture shock, but I knew that coming into the school, I just didn’t know how extreme it was when I first arrived.

So during FOCUS, I met a lot of people, and they were really open. I didn’t feel out of place initially at FOCUS because we stayed in small groups and everyone got to knew each other. But first stepping on the campus, I felt like a complete outcast, and walking into my dorm room, and my roommate unloaded boxes and boxes and boxes on top of boxes and suitcases and everything else you can imagine of clothes and shoes and different accessories that her family bought her, and seeing her mother hand her five hundred dollars on the first day of school, and seeing her pull out her MacBook and decorating everything in the room on her side. Her side of the room was filled with everything that you can imagine and different things to keep her organized and different things to keep her entertained in her spare time. And my side was filled with, like, family photos or, like, a teddy bear or a poster that I could hang up. And walking into the room, you could see the difference that we both possessed. And her introducing me to her group of friends that also lived on the same floor, they all came from the same area and the same school, and I did not feel like I belonged on this campus because I knew how much tuition was. And I knew after seeing the people that lived in the dorm rooms, I felt like this was the rich school, like, I just walked into a school filled with rich kids that don’t have to work for anything. And that really… that was… that was the first day of school. And it really made me feel small.

I felt alone for most of first semester freshman year. Coming… I always grew up with my twin–we did everything together. And that was the first time we were separated, ever. We had the same group of friends, same classes in high school, we were always together. We went to school together, we came home together, same activities, same sports, everything. And leaving her and coming to this place alone really made me feel alone, and probably for the first two weeks of school, I cried and called her on the phone every day . And, like, I would stay up talking to her. She came out here for the first couple weekends to stay with me. And she met Amy, who was the roommate that I bonded with, and we all, for those two weekends, we just hung out together.

And at the same time, I feeling alone, I wanted to be adventurous and come into this world and not just cling to, like, African-Americans ‘cause everywhere I went I seen a group of African-Americans together, and I’m like you’re not exposing yourself to the world that you placed yourself in, and I completely disagreed with what they were doing, so I pretty much stayed away for the first couple months from that group of people that just stuck together because I wanted change, I wanted to experience the different things. But it wasn’t until I actually sat down and talked to an upperclassman, and I got to know what they were actually doing… like, they formed a support group amongst each other, and, yes, they hung out together, but that wasn’t their only group of friends. And although I seen them together a lot, the way they explained it was when they went back to their rooms, they were with the people on their floor who weren’t like them, so they did experience the different things that Valpo had to offer, and I noticed that I was being judgmental towards them, and when I did talk to the upperclassman, I noticed that I was wrong.