“Although I enjoyed experiencing the diverse culture and people on campus, a sense of homesickness would always strike me when I talked to my parents on the phone. I felt lost and disconnected from my own culture,” says Au Yu Hsiao of what led him to try to rediscover his home country, Taiwan, in a literature course in the East Asian Cultural Studies department.
The “Asian bubble” of Communication major Eric Lee’s hometown of San Gabriel kept him immersed in Taiwanese culture all his life. That bubble burst the instant he left home for UC Santa Barbara.
“I found myself at one of the most racially diverse campuses in the United States, a far cry from my hometown,” he said of the transition. “Without a boba café on every corner and friends and family, I felt lost. I felt like I had been disconnected from my racial identity and was unsure if I should downplay my heritage and culture to fit in better, or cling to it tighter than ever before.”