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The Student News Site of Lynbrook High School

the Epic

The Student News Site of Lynbrook High School

the Epic

The Student News Site of Lynbrook High School

the Epic

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The harsh reality of a Bay Area Asian male

Crystal Zhu
Lynbrook alumni Elliu Huang explores his identity surrounding Bay Area stereotypes.

Nothing can prepare you for your first week of college. Scrambling around orientation, trying to match faces and names, figuring out the best food on campus. Then there are all the parties, deciding what classes to take, introducing yourself for the thousandth time. College is where people redefine themselves, and I believed that until I started my first week at the University of Pennsylvania.

A typical introduction follows these lines:

“Hey, I’m _____, what’s your name?”

“Oh cool! Where are you from and what do you study?”

In my case, my answer to the first question is always followed by a confused but polite look as they try to spell it out.  

The second question I’ve come to dread.

Too many times my answer to the second question is followed by a smirk and a nod, as they subconsciously file my personality into the growing bucket of Bay Area Asian males who study computer science.

It wouldn’t be so bad if the judgment stopped there. We all have preconceptions about people from other places, which may or may not be correct, but it really stings when people persist in holding these stereotypes over your head. 

When I first met my neighbor down the hall in freshman year, he told me that the key to getting a computer science degree was finding some genius from the Bay Area and sticking with them. While oddly flattering yet offensive, needless to say, I didn’t see him very much after that.

Other people joked sarcastically about how special I was for my major, my hometown and my love for tennis, which was seen as a typical Bay Area Asian sport. Throughout my first semester at UPenn, I would constantly be subject to Bay Area jokes, comments about my original background and even suggestions that I have little to no personality.  

To countless people, I was just that guy from the Bay Area — a stereotypical face in a stereotypical major looking for a stereotypical job with stereotypical interests. I may have grown up under the intense pressure and scrutiny of academics at Lynbrook, but that isn’t all that I am. It doesn’t define who I am today.

Growing up as a Taiwanese-American in the Bay Area studying STEM-related subjects,  playing tennis and building Legos, I now study computer science at UPenn and have developed a passion for trains, transit and urban planning. I design custom Lego builds, sew plushies and follow the professional tennis tour around the world. We all grow up in a temporary mold, influenced by the variables in our environment, but ultimately, we decide who we want to be.

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About the Contributors
Elliu Huang
Elliu Huang, Managing Editor
Elliu Huang is a senior and is looking forward to one last great year on staff. He hopes to continue counting sheep and practicing the art of weaving plastic, monochromatic strings in a lattice pattern on an elliptical, graphite-tungsten frame (after keeping up with the exigent demands of staff, of course).
Crystal Zhu
Crystal Zhu, Staffer
(she/her/they/them) Crystal is a sophomore and a first-year staffer on the Epic. In her free time, she likes to read, draw and write. Aside from that, she enjoys spicy food, desserts, and watching sad movies.

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    DeanMay 21, 2024 at 7:36 am

    I lived in DC from 1988 to 1995. When people found out I was from CA the first reaction was usually negative. They would comment on the “land of fruits and nuts” and bash CA for being liberal etc..Every stereotype was thrown out – you’re a surfer, not tough, talk funny. I eventually made friends with people from Philly, NYC, and Boston but the bashing remained. My control question: “When’s the last time you were in CA?” Answer: “I’ve never been.” The CA hate colored nearly everyone’s opinion of me. In my opinion most people I encountered believed the East Coast press version of CA. Mix in jealousy over the easy living great weather, and mix with a large dose of tribalism and you have a recipe for the CA hate.