Sitting in the giant lecture hall on my first day of university, I felt terribly out of place. As the first and only member of my family to attend college, leaving my home in rural Malaysia to study in New Zealand was exciting—and terrifying. I wished I was as confident and articulate as my classmates. In the years that followed, I coped by assimilating, relinquishing parts of my old self and remodeling my identity to blend in. I tuned my accent to sound like my classmates. I lied that my uncle was a doctor. I made friends, but consciously changing myself was mentally and emotionally draining. It took me a long time to see there could be another way.
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