Why the U.S.? – Charissa Lee, (Wesleyan ‘23)

Core 2020.

Choosing to study in the US was not easy. I had my mind set on the UK and my father thought (and still thinks) that “the US is very dangerous”. Even after I was offered a full scholarship from Wesleyan University, I still had doubts: Can I survive winter? Will I miss home? What if Americans are really weird? But I took a leap of faith and committed to Wesleyan. 

Attending Wesleyan has allowed me to stretch my academic interests to unimaginable places. What I value the most about a liberal arts education is the intention to draw connections between disciplines. Be it choreographing socially-aware dances, debating the merits of Marxist analysis or learning the semantics of Mandarin Chinese, class discussions often intersect with ideas of religion, class, gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity. This intersectionality bleeds into everyday conversation on campus in the dining hall, and even the laundry room. At first, it was stressful to ensure I always said the ‘smart’ thing. But I soon realised that, at Wes, saying the ‘smart’ thing wasn’t important, being open-minded was. 

Culturally, Wesleyan is unmatched. Wes has a hyper-political culture which I first found overwhelming but I have come to appreciate, knowing that my encounter with intensely passionate people is a rare experience. The visual/performing arts scene on campus is spectacular. Whether I am watching a friend performing in a student-run production or a classmate presenting their creative work, I am constantly inspired by the talent and creativity of my peers. 

The unofficial motto of the school is “Keep Wes Weird”, and I believe this common appreciation for individuality and quirkiness creates a space for people to hone their skills, try new things and thrive in an accepting, caring community. 

My decision to go to the US was not an easy decision, but it was the right decision.