Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Outside Your Comfort Zone

The transition from my comfortable and familiar life at home to my first semester here in Baltimore was quite an eye opener. I was now a part of a community that was new to me in every way which caused me to develop a great sense of dependency. I did not know the campus, the city, the hang outs, or if my personality would meld well with those who go to school here. The upper class-men were the “Wise Men” that seemed to possess all the knowledge that I longed for.    During my freshman year I would believe anything that they would tell me. I asked them everything from what the acceptable fashion was when it came to clothes to which teachers were the best to take. It did not matter if they were right or wrong because I had no previous knowledge to compare to. I even looked to them for friendship which ended up back firing at times. They were above me and I was the lost freshman trying to find her spot in this new miniature city that was Loyola. It causes a longing for companionship, therefore you will do anything in your power to befriend those higher than you. 
When comparing my experience to Tales Of the Tikongs, the dynamic between Sharky and Ika imitates the same theme of dependency that I was faced with. In this case Sharky is the foreigner to Tiko but he represents someone with education and knowledge of a developing world which influences Ika to follow his convincing orders. Just as I was the timid freshman, Ika is a “One such frightened, small-time fisherman” (21). This allows him to be a perfect target for anyone who is making their way into Tiko and trying to take advantage in a way that is beneficial to their own agenda. In order to persuade Ika into doing what he wanted
 “ Sharky grabbed his shoulders, turned him around , and put all his salesmanship into operation” (22). In this specific situation, the native does not have the upper hand and therefore falls victim to those who have more power. The people of Tiko do not know how to handle westernization and all the effects that it will have on their home. This small encounter between these two individuals demonstrates who is strong and who is weak.
I felt that I could connect with Ika because of the way I felt when I was faced with people who had more experience than myself. I specifically remember having seniors in some of my classes and feeling less adequate than them. It was as if they were speaking this higher language that I could not interpret. The way they responded to professors in the classroom or just overhearing their upper class-men lingo caused me to feel left out of the loop. 
When Sharky attempts to speak to Ika in a more “dumbed down language” than his own it really establishes a clear understanding of how the natives are perceived. As he is trying to communicate with Ika, “Sharky switched to the language he used when talking to simple natives” (21). He then proceeds to speak to him in slow, broken, simple sentences in an effort to create an understanding about what he wanted. I could imagine how Ika must feel when listening to someone speak to him in such a mocking tone. This exchange really drew me in because although I did not have older students directly mocking me, it was as if I was treated like the dumb one. I was not an experienced student in this community and had yet to find my place which left me extremely vulnerable.  I would hear other students say things like “look at those freshman they are so clueless” or “Don’t tell them where we hang out they don’t belong there!”. These remarks were not ones that were unusual for incoming new students to hear, however it did evoke feelings of being less of a student then they were. 
Whenever one is faced with a new place with new people there will always be a sense of discomfort. My travel from home into this completely new city and environment caused me to look for direction from those who had already been through the process. When individuals appear to be more intelligent and knowledgable than yourself it is quite normal to feel intimidated. The first time I had to visit one of my teacher’s office hours, I was very nervous. When Ika was faced with going to the Appropriate Authorities “ he was so nervous that he stood outside the office door for twenty minutes” before he decided to walk inside (23). Something as simple as communicating becomes a much bigger challenge because you do not know what to expect. When I first got to Loyola everything seemed to intimidate me at first. The goal is so overcome that nervousness that holds you back from doing what you want to do. For the natives of Tiko, thy face the challenge of learning how to interact with all these people that have more overall knowledge about the world then they do. The key is not letting that lack of confidence take over and cause you to do things that are not in your own best interest. Unfortunately for Ika it is too late, but in my own personal experience I was able to overcome my insecurities and find my place in the Loyola community. 

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