Greetings everyone, my name is Marcus Degnan and I will be studying abroad in both Thailand and Vietnam this semester. Being half-Vietnamese half-American, it has always been my dream to go to my mother’s home country to better understand my family and myself. The desire to go back, to what I’d like to call ‘the Motherland,’ stems from my growing appreciation of my dual-racial identity.
Traveling to Vietnam isn’t just for the novelty of going somewhere new, but it’s a decision to investigate the complexities of my identity. I’ve always had to struggle between whether or not I belonged to America or my mother’s country, as my parents chose to raise me with customs from both cultures. This includes instances like eating macaroni and cheese with chopsticks, which appear odd to others, but was the household I grew up in. Living in America all my life has given me many privileges, which I am thankful for, but I feel the need to go to Vietnam to better understand how the values/customs I’ve grown up with come together to form who I am.
Before heading to Vietnam, I will be staying in Thailand for 2 months as apart of the Education Abroad Program. During this time I hope to cultivate a greater appreciation for a culture I am unfamiliar, and see how my experiences within Thailand compare to Vietnam later on. As I begin finalizing my suitcase, which includes picking clothes, books, and a picture or two of my friends (that captures my good side), I am excited for the new experiences I’ll be presented with. I’m also anxious for all the obstacles I may endure, including the painful process of travel time that may wear me down. For readers out there, I hope you enjoy my written journey as I seek to chronicle them.