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home : columns : dear harriette March 19, 2018

1/26/2018 4:52:00 PM
International parents have high expectations

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have grown up with international parents. My mother is Scottish, and my father is Australian. They both grew up overseas, and their first time living in the United States was when we moved here in 2002. Growing up in New York with parents who were not American allowed me to learn so much about different cultures. There were also amazing perks, such as traveling to visit family in the United Kingdom and Australia during the holidays.  

Although this was amazing growing up, there were also things that my parents didn't understand, such as the American college system. I struggled explaining to them small things such as the application process and sororities, and I also find it hard to meet their high expectations of what I should be doing with my life. How do you suggest I talk to them about the fact that there is a difference between growing up in the U.S and other places? -- Between Two Worlds, New Orleans 

DEAR BETWEEN TWO WORLDS: Your parents know that the experiences they provided for you early on are unique to your family, but you may want to remind them as you also tell them that now you are creating your own experiences. Because you have chosen to go to school in America and have been learning the culture for many years now, you feel more American than not. Tell them that you know your duty is to be an excellent student, and you also have the responsibility of figuring out how to live your life. As you are growing and developing, you have to learn how to navigate in the world on your own. Tell them how much you appreciate all that they have done and are continuing to do for you. Ask them to allow you the space to figure some things out on your own as well.  


DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a college senior who is living in a four-bedroom apartment with three other girls. I love my roommates because they are some of my best friends, but I am currently having some issues that I didn't think would arise.  

I am a science major, meaning I have tons of work every night. My roommates, on the other hand, do not have as much work and are constantly wanting to go out to party, or watch a movie in the living room. They can sometimes get very loud and distracting. I am thankful I have my own room, but I would like to be able to feel like it is my apartment as well as theirs. -- The Studying Student, Jackson, Mississippi 

DEAR THE STUDYING STUDENT: It is time to create ground rules for the whole apartment. Meet with your roommates and agree to terms that work for everyone -- including you. This might mean turning down the TV or even turning it off after a certain time or conducting conversations in their rooms after a particular hour. 

You may also need to study in the library at school more often where it is quiet and you can control your environment better. 


(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.) 

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