The Exit Interview: Mike’s Farewell

| May 29, 2016 | 0 Comments

You’ve graduated last Sunday, and you’re now officially an alumnus of Boston University and the Culture Shock blog. How does it feel?

Very weird. I’m still slowly trying to recover from the aftershocks of commencement. The past week just flew by in terms of saying goodbye to everyone, moving out from BU, hosting my parents, and just being ready for the real world. Right now things are strange and exciting and scary, but that’s bascially adulthood and independence. And I know there’s an underlying sense of wonder buried somewhere. I just have to go out there and discover it.

Going back a bit, who or what introduced you to Culture Shock?

I blame Jeff Fox (who is also a fellow SED alumni) for writing a fantastic piece for the blog that somehow ended up on my Facebook feed. It seemed very popular so I gave it a read and was immediately hooked. It was the first time that a “print” entry really resonated with me, and I was desperate for more. Soon I was quickly browsing the site’s informative and engaging content, and I thought it would be amazing to not only contribute to this site but be able to surround myself with so many talented people. When Splash came around and I was lucky enough to found Jeff promoting the blog, and I remember quickly asking him for the tips to join the staff. Thankfully, he taught me well, and – in true Culture Shock form – I got my application in right before the deadline. The rest is history.

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Accurate representation of my first Culture Shock experience.

A lot of your posts seems to be about you, or reflecting about things that affected you personally. Was this something you wanted to do specifically when you first decided to join?

My first writing experience came through sports blogging back in high school, where the focus was very analytical and informative in its approach. Because of that, it was incredibly difficult to include your own voice and still have your post be well-written. But when you consider why this blog exists in the first place, you realize that for Culture Shock, the opposite is true. Culture Shock prides itself on spreading the message of the Howard Thurman Center and common ground – of the idea that there is more that unites us then divides us. And because of that intention, I think every writer here creates a post knowing that it will be a bit reflective or a bit personal for themselves. It’s a small leap of faith.

So going from sports blogging to this ambitious site was a fascinating experiment and challenge, and way back in sophomore year I started off being very aware of how much my voice should be present in my writing. Most of those early posts revolved more on my observations and less on my feelings, which I think is a “safer” way to get the point across. But as I continued to discuss things with my colleagues, I became more and more fascinated with people’s stories; more importantly, I realized that most of us have stories we want to tell because of how powerful we think they could be. For me, it just felt like the next logical step in terms of becoming a better writer. I had never kept a diary before or had any outlet for stuff like this, so at first I was very hesitant to share my life with everyone else. Once I did gain the confidence in writing it all down, it suddenly became very difficult to separate my personal thoughts from my writing.

Is it hard to reflect upon and write about your own life, especially with the tougher experiences?

Of course. And the frustrating thing is that sometimes you pour yourself into a post, and it just doesn’t turn out to be very interesting or isn’t fleshed out enough to be a worthwhile read. Writing about yourself always paints a bullseye on your back, so when criticism comes it is often incredibly difficult to take in. But I would also say Culture Shock alleviates a lot of those concerns, because the community has been very supportive and open to these ideas and I’m incredibly grateful to have been able to share my feelings confidently. As a group, I’d think we’re very kind and helpful to each other, especially when we disagree on certain aspects of an issue. When we critique and review each other people’s posts, we really, really want to make their writing better. And the amount of respect and sincerity we hold for our fellow writers is truly astounding and heartwarming.

Any regrets about posts that you did not write?

Oh man, tons! I mean, just looking through WordPress you can see the ridiculous amounts of drafts and titles I have left behind. I think the one I regret the most would be “Men Who Shop.” It was about the idea that you never seemed to see men at department stores shopping, which I found curious. When I talk with guys most of time, they say it’s their girlfriends, their significant others, or their mothers who get them their clothes, and you’d rarely see men go to a Primark or Nordstorm’s by themselves. It was an interesting observation for me. Really, as a SED grad, I suppose most issues regarding men and masculinity are. I definitely should’ve written about the minority voice in my time here – and not just because 60% of the students at BU are female but rather because it’s such a under-discussed aspect of society that needs attention and recognition. But yeah, if I had to choose one specific post I regret not writing, it’d be that one. Or maybe the one where the entire post consisted of puns.

What will you miss most about Culture Shock?

Not pictured: inisde jokes and splendid conversation.

Not pictured: inisde jokes and splendid conversation.

I think I’m going to miss the routine – the little things – the most, especially the conversations I’ve had with the staff. The smaller moments when we’re going around and just sharing our stories and building off one another. Every meeting we’d do a “post idea” discussion that basically kicked off the dialogue for our staff. What was bothering us? What did we find interesting? What did we want to talk about? Most of the time it’d be pretty straightforward, but we’d also often go on these bizarre, random tangents that added nothing to the topic at hand but ended up being extremely hilarious regardless. And like I said earlier, it was just very cool to be able to listen people talking about the insightful, enthusiastic ideas they have about the world.

I also think I will just miss being the person I was at those meetings – more specifically the “Mike” that showed up on Thursday nights and contributed to the community. Does that make sense? I think my former boss, Ceci, said it best in her own last post – it doesn’t feel like I’m saying goodbye to writing as much as it feels like I’m saying goodbye to a big part of my life over the past few years. I know that the people, the words, the ideas are all still here – but now I’ve got to frame them in a new and exciting way outside of Culture Shock. And to me, that’s a very bittersweet sensation.

Following the tradition of graduates, what advice would you like to pass on to the future?

Enjoy the moment. Don’t be afraid to explore, and most of all, have fun doing what you do! I think Bill Watterson (the author of Calvin and Hobbes) summed it up best. “To invent your own life’s meaning is not easy, but it’s still allowed, and I think you’ll be happier for the trouble.” Ever since I’ve heard the quote I’ve been doing my best to live up to it.

And your last words?

Just a lot of thank yous, really! Thank you to those who came before and made Culture Shock possible in the first place. Even though I’ve never met most of you I hope I’ve lived up to the vision set you’ve set as founders.

Thank you to the upperclassmen I’ve met over the past few years who invited me into their own little worlds. I’m grateful to have had such amazing mentors and I hope you know how much you mean to me – as teachers and as friends.

Thank you to the staff and the amazing people I have had the privilege to know over the past few years: you’re all a wonderful inspiration. More importantly, I hope you know you are talented, creative, and beautiful people with things to say and words to write, and I can’t wait to see how you will change the world in the very near future.

And of course, thank you to the many people who have actually clicked on the pages, on those who retweeted the links and taken the time to actually read my writing. I truly admire your patience and good graces. It’s been a pleasure to write for this site over the past three years, and I hope you all enjoyed the ride.

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Category: Campus Culture, featured, Reflections

Mike Chan

About the Author ()

Mike graduated from BU in 2016 with a Elementary Education major and Mathematical Statistics minor. He is from Washington (the State) and a avid football fan, so don't be surprised to see him bunkered down by the television on Sundays. He's likes music, long naps, movies, Doctor Who, video games, and making people feel great (and sometimes altogether at once). If he is not writing here, he's probably busy rambling on Reddit or cooking something exotic. Follow his Twitter @karatemanchan37. You have been warned.

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