"Americans don't have hairdos" and Other Cultural Insights

Posted on November 19,2012 by sdmosaligantimspp

My absurd roommates! Melissa #1, a non-profit employee from OH; Guillermo, a photography student from Spain; Melissa #2, an interior-design student from PA; my partner Kishore, a biology post-doc from India; Laura, a biochem grad student from Colombia; and me, a psych grad student from DC!

I asked a friend of mine from Croatia, an Advertising grad student at BU, to share his biggest "criticism" of American culture, and he vehemently responded with, "Americans don't have hairdos." While I am very open about critiquing American culture, I was slightly shook up by this "complaint" (probably because I was sitting there with wet hair). But then I smiled and thought to myself, "How did I, a Psychology student from Washington, DC, ever end up in Boston talking with an Advertising student from Croatia about the 'hairdo status' of Americans?"

Boston, given its unique "academic" culture, represents a hotbed of robust learning and intellectual activity, thereby attracting a diverse population of students and workers - whether you're among roommates or at a bar, cafe, library, or school, chances are that you're surrounded by people representing a variety of professional, academic, ethnic, racial, geographic, and overall cultural backgrounds who foster and nurture a range of interests and insight (for instance, if you're interested in meeting a Croatian Advertising student who is fond of flamboyantly coifed hair, I know just the person for you).

Therefore, MSPP is a school that exists within the broader "campus" of Boston - this city provides you with, not just an opportunity to learn about your specific field at your specific educational institution, but to learn from the diverse network of people living around you. So if you're in or just moving to Boston, I recommend putting yourself out there, whether by participating in Boston cultural activities or searching for roommates on Craigslist or going to pubs or cafes or bookstores. By reaching out to and engaging with a variety of people, you can develop a richer understanding of other lenses through which to view and interpret the world around us. Such exposure not only informs my psych work, but also facilitates a more well-rounded, open-minded, creative, and enriched "self"... and maybe a better hairdo?

Kishore, who I met five years ago at a Diwali night at BU, teaching me about zebrafish biology/genetics at his lab. Here he is selecting a zebrafish for mating.