I was born in India and moved over to the UK when I was just three months old. I lived in Bexhill, Kent, for the majority of my childhood but moved to Tunbridge Wells about three years ago. Now I would call Kent home, more than Bexhill. I chose Falmouth as a University because of the seaside and because it’s a lovely place to study. My parents were both born in India but have spent a big part of their life in England too. So, India is my family’s roots.
My relationship with the Indian culture is an interesting one. I went back to India and Goa last summer, it was incredible, beautiful and we had an amazing time. I would regard England still as my home because that is what I am used to, but it was wonderful to see a completely different way of living and a different lifestyle. I feel like I have still got so much to learn from the Indian culture. Even though it is my heritage, I don’t know enough about the place. I was never really completely interested in my heritage until I grew up, which is when I realised how beautiful and interesting the culture is. I definitely want to embrace and learn more about my original heritage, but I would want to learn about it for me, I don’t feel an expectation to learn the culture for anyone else, because I have spent most of my life not knowing much about it. I want to learn more for my own curiosity, just as I am interested completely about different cultures such as the Japanese and Chinese culture.
I definitely felt like the ‘foreigner’ when I was in India, especially with my accent! I didn’t feel bad about it, I kind of liked the idea of having the best of both worlds, I can talk about England as well as learning about my original heritage whilst being there. Living in England, I have never really felt that sense of being a ‘foreigner’, perhaps it is because of where I grew up. Being fortunate to live where I have, my family has just been regarded and welcomed as the same. Occasionally, we do get the whole “where are you really from?” and when I was younger I did question whether I belonged here. Now I embrace both cultures. It is so cool to know that if I want to explore where I’m originally from, I’ve always got that opportunity. But I am so lucky and fortunate to have been raised in an area, where I haven’t had to struggle to the extent that some other people have had to due to their heritage.
Growing up, because I wasn’t regarded as ‘Indian’, I was just one of the rest, I managed fine. Every-so-often, when someone didn’t know me, they would ask where I was from, and continue to tell me all the bad things that came with my culture, such as some bad stereotypes and traits, which I was unaware of. This sometimes made me ashamed of my heritage, so I didn’t show that side to me because firstly I didn’t need to, and secondly, I didn’t feel like I had that side of me anyway, so I struggled to embrace that part of me that was there. But as I grew older, I realised that every culture has its flaws, and people are raised in a way that their culture seems right, and to other cultures they may see their actions and think that is wrong, but each culture has its own quirks. I just appreciate the parts of what I love about every different culture, and I take the best bits from each!
I haven’t joined a society, such as an Asian society, whilst being at Falmouth, because I haven’t been raised so heavily towards that culture, so it is not something that I have felt is me. Personally, for me, I wouldn’t have said I needed a society to help me fit in, because this environment is the sort of environment that I’ve grown up in, so I would feel more out of place being a part of a society which is solely focused on one thing. There is also a part of me that feels like ‘why?’, I think it is amazing that people use where they're from to define them, however to me I feel like my heritage does not define me as a person. I would rather have a society that had a mix of different cultures to experience and celebrate, and try other foods for example. It is nice to have a safety net for some. But for me, what defines me are more my interests, and what I do. I love art, music, reading, I love the beach, I love being outdoors, I love nature, all those little things make up me. I see countries as a place where your feet stand. Your heritage or the colour of your skin shouldn’t separate or segregate you from other cultures, if you want to stand in India, stand in India, if you want to go and put your feet in Africa put your feet in Africa! But if you feel so proud and patriotic of where you’re from then that can define you. That’s why I love Falmouth because I feel like everyone is free to express themselves. I love people embracing their differences, not being defined by one thing. I think that can be such an issue because people try to put a label on who you are because of where you’re from. But to me that is not how it should be. To me it is “you’re Julia” and a branch of you is Indian, and a branch of me is British, but a branch of me is also artistic, and another branch of me loves to read.
I think this stems from how my parents have raised me, they raised me in a way that has been very much ‘you do you Julia,’. They gave me the tools and let me make what I have of myself. They provided a stable ground for me to discover myself, and do things for me. My parents have made me work for things and allow me to form my own opinion. They tell me their opinions, and their views, we have debates, we might argue, but we still respect each others’ perspectives.
What makes me proud of my parents, is that they still love India and are proud to talk about their country, they inspire me to keep exploring culture, and exploring what it means to be me. My parents can see that parts of my style and parts of my everyday aspects link back to that Indian heritage, and they like to tell me stories from their past. They have never questioned my personal perspective on who I am. My grandparents, live in India. Their way of living is different, but we all have a routine, my Nan still goes to yoga every morning, my Grandad does his daily evening walks with his friends. When you think about those things, and about daily routines, it’s not different to anyone else, but they just approach it differently. You still have these little quirks, it is not about someone being ‘Indian’ for example, it is about being human and having the same core, no matter where you’re from. My culture and their culture has never gotten between anything. From knowing my Nan, I know she would love to see me in India more, it is not so much about me embracing their culture, I don’t think she would think ‘Julia is not Indian enough’, because again what is that? What is Indian enough, and what is British enough? I think that is such a bizarre concept.
If I had to define myself by one thing, it would be creative. I feel really fortunate that I’m able to see the best of both worlds, I’m able to say that I have Indian heritage but also to have been raised and brought up in a way that British culture is what I am accustomed to, and that has never been a problem for me. I feel more thrilled now, because of how fortunate I have been, to explore my roots, and appreciate more Indian culture, and get to know where I was originally from.