College Essay: Nellie Shih

Nellie Shih '19

Everyone belongs to many different communities and/or groups defined by (among other things) shared geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology, or intellectual heritage. Choose one of the communities to which you belong, and describe that community and your place within it. (100-300)

You know you grew up in a Taiwanese family when you always take your shoes off inside any house (my mom will whip out the Swiffer the second dirty shoes touch the her spotless floor), have a grocery bag filled with more grocery bags, cringe at your mom asking for warm water at a restaurant, have seen more Studio Ghibli movies than “classic” movies, and use chopsticks for all three meals of the day. The chopsticks hold particular significance because apparently I don’t hold my chopsticks properly. My extended family members (my immediate family has accepted my chopstick habits) always address my problematic chopstick usage – some even say it physically pains them to watch how I hold them. I personally believe they’re all being overdramatic and if I can still pick up food, it doesn’t matter how I go about it.

When my family members have tired of calling out my offensive behavior, there’s a lot of talk about academics: doing well in high school so that I can get into a good college and be successful, etc. Alternatively, I might hear “You need to learn how to cook for your husband.” A lot of my family members tell me what kinds of decisions I should be making so that I’ll be happy, but I want to make my own decisions and figure this all out myself. I understand my family is just trying to help, but I believe that to be happy, I have to pursue what I want to pursue. Ultimately, I’m determined I hold my ground and follow whatever method I find is the best for me.