IAP Daily Reflection 1

Reading time: 4-5 minutes

Language: English
Part 2 can be found here

As a part of our Cross-cultural Collaboration class (which I talked about in previous post), we have to write a daily reflection. For some people, it might be hard to keep in track and not slack off. For me, I was really happy to get this assignment. As you probably know by now, I love writing, but I have been slacking off and finding ‘busy’ as a strong excuse not to write more.

Just a quick recap: this IAP (Independent Activities Period, MIT term for 1-month long winter term), besides taking Cross-cultural Collaboration (CCC), I am also doing a UROP (Undergraduate Research Opportunity) with MIT Urban Risk Lab. The rest of the time? I am just learning how to cook, bake, and going to different museums, haha.

So, this is what I have done so far in the first week of January (which is taken from my assignment).


Today is the first day of cross-cultural collaboration class. I met some new friends from Singapore, and we got lunch together afterwards. I noticed some differences in how we refer to things, for example, how they said, “I have a lesson now,” while an MIT student would have said, “I have a class now.” I found it strange at first, but it is actually really interesting how different the way we use English is. 


I watched the video of Cain talking about the power of introverts. As an introvert, I agreed with her opinion regarding group work, and how the society gives more emphasis on being extrovert than being introvert. I sometimes felt that way, too, and felt forced to speak more in a group, participate in a lot of get-togethers, and others. However, being a completely introvert is not necessarily good, sometimes, taking a step out of comfort zone is necessary in certain conditions.


I talked to an Indian-American who is from Missouri. She was born in New Delhi, India, before she moved to the US when she was 1. After that, she always visits her extended family every now and then, and she always feels a significant difference between both cultures: in India, people value their family a lot more. This includes how the children respect the elders, and how making decision involves consideration of how it will affect the family. She thinks that it is different than how her American friends describe their families. She would describe her culture as a ‘selfless society’, which is a really interesting term for me. It means, individual is less important than community/ family. 


I talked to a Malaysian who studies at MIT. She finds that calling professors/ mentors by their first names in the US is hard to adjust to. Back in Malaysia, she call professors/ mentors by their honorifics and their last names. In addition to that, she celebrates the diverse holidays from different population groups living in Malaysia, e.g. Hari Raya, Chinese New Year, Diwali, and others. However, in the US, Americans celebrate different sets of holidays with different tradition, like Thanksgiving. 


I went to a ski trip today, and I learnt how to ski for the first time, along with my Singaporean friends. It was not my first time seeing snow, but it was for them. Some people, during the day, was interested more in playing with the snow and making a snow rather than actually skiing. This is one interesting thing that happens almost every day, but sometimes we ignore it: something that we know and experience every day might not be the same with others’. Even though one thinks that everyone in the same culture knows a basic thing, but this is not the case with people outside the cultural group.


I talked to an American from Michigan who studies at MIT. She thinks that her most important value, when growing up, was family.  She also thinks that her culture also really values equality and justice (core democratic values).  Her family is also interested in science and education, so she argued a lot with her friends in middle school about the existence of evolution and climate change. In additions, she was taught to think that apologizing and saying “thank you” a lot is polite, but her colleagues have criticized me for apologizing too much because they think she should only apologize when you do something really bad. It is interesting to see how not only the general stereotype in her case seems to be true, but also a specific nurture (apologizing and thanking) can affect her a long way.

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