Do Your Thing!

Moving to Portland from Kosova was not easy; this was not because of the 15-hour journey in the airplane that it takes to get here, but because of the culture shock I faced.  Back in the Balkans, for example, social borders are well defined, and everyone knows what to do and what not to do, and how far to go.

Having been brought up with such social expectations, there are many times when I have felt challenged and uneasy by the people here. One of the hardest challenges was getting used to the lifestyles of the people I was living with. Even though these people were usually small families, I found it surprising that not even one member of the family thought the same as the other, everyone had an opinion, a different opinion, and strangely enough to me, they all wanted to do their “thing.”

Back home, however, I was raised to comply with what the others around me agreed on. Rarely did I think twice that I could have my own say. It was those societal expectations that encouraged me to conform, and this is best illustrated by a Japanese proverb, “the nail which sticks out will get hammered.” But here it is different, “The squeaky wheel gets the oil.” In Portland it is even more different, “do your thing,” and “all you need is love, the rest is details,” that was my welcome to PSU.

4 thoughts on “Do Your Thing!

  1. Hi Flamur,

    I remember reading your story and seeing your illustrations on a blog post for the Southern Oregonian magazine. It has stuck in my head, and I still think about your story from time to time. It’s neat to see how well you’re doing here in Oregon, and I know I will hear more about you in the future! Especially now that we’re both attending the same school (again!).


  2. Hello Courtney,

    Thank you so much for your kind comments. I feel bad because I don’t
    think I even met you at Southern Oregon University 🙁 Maybe we will cross
    paths here at PSU. Hope all is going well with you and good luck to you
    this term, and the terms to come.

    Flamur Vehapi

  3. I’m so glad we get the chance to hear your voice Flamur! I really love hearing the experiences of others, especially those who were not raised in this culture, it is very good help us have that shift in perspective 🙂
    Hope the mentoring is going well and to see you around campus!
    Teresa Gaddy

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