The Segway to Self-Identity

Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

“Wissen Sie, wo die Stadtamhof Haltestelle ist?” (Do you know where the Stadamhof Station is?). The German man directed his question to me, but before I had the chance to respond, my sister interjected, “Oh no, that's just my brother.” In that moment, I realized I had just been mistaken for a German local. My red chino pants and H&M tee-shirt must have really sold the part. The German man’s misjudgment made me feel chic and sophisticated as if his small mistake gave me a new level of superiority.

For the remainder of my family’s German expedition, I was determined to appear like a local. Whenever we were in public, I made sure that my aunt, who is fluent in German, did all the talking; I only opened my mouth if I could employ the little German I knew. If my painfully American parents uttered a word of English near me in public, I shot them a scornful glare.

To my dismay, my temporary lifestyle came to an end. The time came for me to resume my life as a typical American teenager. On the last day of our trip, I packed up my bags and boarded my flight in a state of constant pondering and reflection. I wondered why I had spent the entirety of my time in Germany attempting to appear like a local. Why was I trying to create an...

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