An Alien Abroad

Cellular Hierarchies, Effie Jia

Dear Mom, 

My year abroad is off to a good start. It’s a bit chilly, but I’m told that’s normal for this time of year. People here only have one sun, so they don’t have alternating heat currents the way we do. I think being among people who lack the sort of privilege I’ve become accustomed to is really going to be good for my personal growth. 

The capsule ride here went safely. I found myself rehydrated pretty quickly, but I think some particulate matter found its way into my physiology. Well, you did tell me travel would change me forever!

The host university is an interesting place. They have strong feelings about architectural consistency, in that it should be avoided at all costs.  The students appear to feel similarly about the outdoors. I remembered what we learned in orientation about the importance of communication with the locals and asked someone how I could best fit in when I venture into the city. He suggested I support red socks. I wear those exclusively now—I think I’m really starting to blend in!

You told me I should take this opportunity to absorb some new cultural values. I’ve definitely taken your words to heart. My new friends display insobriety, overcommitment, and masochism in truly remarkable quantities, and I’m striving to emulate them.

Missing you and Dad. Please send money and candy when you can. 



About the Author

Maggie Libby · MIT

Maggie Libby is a Civil & Environmental Engineering and Literature student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from Corpus Christi, TX. “An Alien Abroad” originally appeared in Rune.

About the Artist

Effie Jia  · Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Effie recently graduated from MIT, where she studied design and architecture. She loves to build things, draw, travel, hike, garden, and make Spotify playlists. Her interests range from fabrication to sustainability to literature and more; she is curious about everything

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