Contentment found by approaching diversity

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    College is supposed to take students away from the comforts of high school and prepare them for the inevitable difficulties of the real world.

    Our university bubble isn’t showing us the real world. I mean, honestly, how many first-year professions pay well enough for a brand new BMW? As students, we may not know what we want, but we should face the facts and realize our eyes need to be opened. It’s time we grow up and see the world.

    Success is not handed to us, and it’s time to recognize we are lucky enough to attend TCU. Surrounding ourselves solely with people from the same hometown, background, race and religion isn’t doing us any good. We need to realize extreme poverty exists in this world or that there are interesting cultures with different traditions.

    Many people are too focused on following a strict curriculum that they miss out on many opportunities. How can you expect respect from people when you aren’t willing to walk in their shoes?

    At my high school, each senior was required to earn 100 hours of community service to graduate. I cringed at the thought of spending my summer volunteering. After a little research, my best friend and I found the perfect solution. We were going to Costa Rica. We packed very little, immersed ourselves completely in the Costa Rican culture and helped others. We built a library, taught children English and patrolled beaches to scare off poachers. The first few days were hard, and I spent nights crying. It took some getting used to, but after re-evaluating my life and situation, I realized I was jealous. The Costa Ricans had something I didn’t: a genuine feeling of contentment.

    They could make friends with strangers and build things with their own hands. The true beauty in these people and their lifestyle was at my feet. I immediately forgot about the social pressures that normally ran through my head. I didn’t care about how much time I spent away from my friends; I wanted to experience this beautiful world. Returning back to my “real” life brought feelings of regret. I regretted the way I had spent my life and knew it was time to change. I wanted to learn new languages, meet new people and feel content.

    We have been taught to fear difference even though people will protest otherwise. We are afraid to approach diversity and by doing so we miss out. It is important to experience a new ethnography at least once in our lives. It will open our eyes to the fact that we are lucky, we are spoiled and we are privileged. We should take advantage of our opportunities, and instead of focusing on financial and social success, we should focus on genuine contentment by forgetting about restricting plans and instead plunge into less fortunate countries where we can help them, and others can help us.

    Allison Branca is a sophomore strategic communications major from Houston.

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