What does America mean to me

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Dear Dairy,                                                                                                       Sep 16, 2012 Sunday

  I was so excited that I am going to Davis tomorrow! My American dream is going to come true. Maybe I will make a lot of American friends. Maybe I can experience “a party in the U.S.A” as Miley Cyrus singing in her song. Maybe I can practice my English a lot and speak with a California accent one year later. Anyway I am really tired today. I need to go to bed early so that I can suffer from the 16 hours flight tomorrow.

Dear Dairy,                                                                                                       Sep 21, 2012 Friday

   The last few days were crazy. I was so glad that I moved into my new awesome host family. They took me to play softball game and camping. I had never done these before and they were really fun!  The only thing that is a little bit hard for me is drinking cold water all the time. Will there be water just at normal temperature?

Dear Dairy,                                                                                                     Sep 24, 2012 Monday

  The fall quarter started officially today! I went to my first class in Davis. It’s in a big lecture hall but I didn’t feel so weird because there were a lot of Asian students.  I looked at them, wondering whether they are exchange students like me or they were American. It was really hard to tell.

Dear Dairy,                                                                                                 Deb 29th, 2012 Saturday

   I moved to my new apartment! Although I will miss my host family but I guess I will have more fun living with other UCD students.

  Guess what? I have never imagined that I could have lived in a place with such diversity. My roommates have very different backgrounds, such as American, Jewish, Palestinian, Chinese, Korean and Burmese. It’s like living in a mini United Nations.

Dear Dairy,                                                                                                  Mar 23rd, 3013 Saturday

   The spring quarter went so fast, and I finally finished my last exam. When I was crossing quad today, I saw a protest for LGBT. It’s my first time to see the rainbow flag. I stood there watching them for a while but I didn’t really understand what they were doing. Who were they protest against? Or they just wanted to express their belief to whoever happened to cross the quad? I guess there might be a possibility that someone in the crowd had a totally different view but everyone respected the protesters and gave them the room to express themselves.

Dear Diary,                                                                                               April 11th, 2013 Thursday

  I was so happy that I enrolled in the AMS30 class. Today the professor talked about the representation, and I like the idea, “When we go in search of what is profoundly American… we overlook and undervalue what doesn’t fit with the definition we choose” (Stuart, 20, “The Work of Representation”). I feel that everyone had his or her own idea or stereotype of America and the exception in stereotype only make it sound more correct. For example, when people talks about California, they might naturally come up with an image of beaches, palm trees and bikini girls. Those images are exaggerated by social media, and thus they can be very misleading. Can you enjoy a typical “California” afternoon lying on beach in Davis? Of course not! But is Davis part of California? Definitely yes! 

Dear Diary,                                                                                                   May 7, 2013 Tuesday

  You know how surprised I was when I walked into library as usual today and saw the huge portrait of Indian? I walked pass this painting almost every single day but I didn’t realize it was Indian until the lecture “Playing Indian” this morning. One time I even stopped and looked closely at the painting because I felt the color contrast was really interesting, but I never connected it with “Indian”. After reading the comments of another student on the course blog, I started to realize that Indian exits in American culture in various ways, but it was me who kept ignoring it. I even took a picture with the sculpture of Seattle Chief when I was traveling in Seattle! What a shame that I didn’t really understand the historical meaning of the sculpture when I took it!

Dear Diary                                                                                                     May 9, 2013 Thursday

   It’s a pleasure to watch my first western movies today, and I discovered that the Western Culture Center was right next to the computer room in the library. I started to know that western is not only about cowboys in the movie, it exits as a culture that has influence on millions of American people.

Dear Diary                                                                                                      May13, 2013 Monday

  I went to the Asian American Movement event today. They showed us a documentary about the Asian American in entertainment industry. It’s reassuring to see the power of Asian American rising although nowadays it is so hard to name a single Asian American movie star or musician. I watched a lot of Hollywood movies and other TV series but it was so hard to find an Asian face. In the tutorials, professor told us that more than 40% of students in UC Davis are Asian American. This fact surprised me a lot. I feel that both in entertainment industry and in daily life, Asian American need to stand up more and let their voice heard.

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4 Responses to What does America mean to me

  1. Grace Gu says:

    I took a snapshot of two webpages and combined them together. The picture above shows what popped up when I typed, “America”, in Google. And the picture below showed what popped up when I typed, “美国(America)”, in Baidu. I chose these two search engines because they are most used in both countries.
    You can see the obvious differences between these two pictures. In the upper image found on Google, “America” means territory and symbols, such as the map of The United States, the national flag of U.S, the Statue of Liberty an eagle with the slogan, “God bless America”. Some people may argue the use of the word “America” is not so precise. The truth is that I also searched “The United States of America”, “USA” and “U.S”, and the results are very similar. Thus I chose “America” in this image because I felt this is the most commonly used word. When referring to America, the lower picture found on Baidu also shows the Statue of Liberty, but it definitely focuses more on other things. And unlike Google, Baidu shows images of skyscrapers in New York city, and the global financial center, Wall street. Going across the country, Baidu also shows images of downtown LA, the old architecture in Boston, Niagara Falls and the beautiful beaches in Hawaii. The contrast between the images presented by Google and Baidu reflects how I feel about America now. How Chinese people look at America is quite different from how American people see themselves.
    I chose this to be my image because I feel that my image of America has changed a lot during my stay in America. When I first came here, I looked at America through the Chinese glasses, with all the images shown in the lower snapshot in mind. I had a lot of misconceptions, but my frame of mind gradually changed.
    As Hall said, “Representation works as much though what is not shown, as though what is.”(59; “The Work of Representation”) It is important to dig deep through information to understand what is really going on. Nowadays, people heavily rely on the Internet to get the information that you need, but sometimes on line information doesn’t reflect the reality so well. As my images show, you can get different results from different social media even if you type the same word. For me, it is so hard to see the real America. I have my old stereotype and I have sources from America media, both of which influence my perspective. Plus, I also have “real” American experience, as I have been in Davis about 8 months. All those images are mixed together and represent the America to me.

  2. melbelle15 says:

    I like the points you make in your diary post from April 11, 2013. I especially like the quote you used from Stuart Hall that says, “When we go in search of what is profoundly American…we overlook and undervalue what doesn’t fit with the definition we choose.” I think this quote goes along perfectly with the point you make that everyone has his or her own idea or stereotype of America. Stereotypes are common no matter where you live. There are stereotypes within each country and stereotypes that one country has of another country. In the United States, there seems to be so many stereotypes because America is so diverse. Since America is a democracy with freedom of speech, press and religion it attracts so many different types of people to the country. Unfortunately, the variety of diverse people in America leads to even more stereotypes. These stereotypes are especially exaggerated in the media through images, film, propaganda, etc. Most of the time, these stereotypes are false and how they are presented through the media can be very misleading. There are also many foreign stereotypes of the United States. For example, America is considered to be a model country where all men and women are free and equal. To people outside of the United States, America is very appealing because it is labeled as a land of opportunity. The fact that people outside the United States see America like this is a stereotype within itself. We all have them of either our country or other countries. However, within each country there are also stereotypes. In the United States, there seems to be so many because America is so diverse. Since America is a democracy with freedom of speech, press and religion it attracts so many different types of people to the country. Unfortunately, the variety of diverse people in America leads to even more stereotypes. These stereotypes are especially exaggerated in the media through images, film, propaganda, etc. Most of the time, these stereotypes are false and how they are presented through the media can be very misleading.

  3. Lydia says:

    As an exchange student as you, I sympathized with your manifesto. Diary style manifesto was very interesting to read. It made me remind of my first arrival in America.
    At first, I could see your image first. It was very interesting to me because I could agree with the image. It is same in Korea; when I search ‘America’ in Korean, there are a lot of images of American landmarks. Some people wrote about their travel route in America, and many people share their travels and plans. However, when we search ‘America’ in English, we can see many symbols of America. I think it is related to the points of view how people see America. In other countries, America is mostly thought of travel and new place to go. In America itself, it is a kind of acknowledgement of American themselves.
    You wrote ‘it is hard to see real America’, and I agree with that. But also I could find your manifesto expressing diversity; the new things you haven’t ever had, Asian Americans, Indians, and LGBT. Actually, it might be a result of the fact that I wrote my manifesto with a view of diversity. Because of the diversity in America, it is very hard to determine ‘what is America’. However, I think THAT is the very America, the diversity itself.

  4. aniyabaker3 says:

    Grace, I absolutely loved your manifesto!!
    The diary-like format really captured my attention. I loved everything you found to be unusual here in America interesting. The fact of you wanting room temperature water was one of my favorites. I cannot speak for all but most people I have come to know love cold water, if not slushy-like. It was great to see the differences among people in your manifesto. My favorite diary entry had to be the first enrollment in AMS 30. In one entry, you connected enjoyment with the point of our assignment. Stuart Hall’s quote from “Work of Representation” was definitely a great fit with the message you were trying to get across. Everyone has their own opinions and thoughts in relation to just about anything. Stereotypes are in movies, magazines, shows, art, etc. Stereotyping is one thing that has not been controlled. Because of movies, people build their own perception of environments, race, etc. This also applies to things other than movies. Also, stereotyping exists because of the diversity here in America. If people were the same here in America, that would be one less thing to stereotype, but it would definitely not be the end of stereotyping itself.

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