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I moved to Philadelphia in 2006 for college. Then home to New Delhi in 2010. Then back to America, to Chicago in 2012. In 2013, I headed to D.C. That’s where I have lived since, barring a a brief stint in London in 2014.

All that’s to say that I’ve had the privilege of living in the U.S. for  many years now; long enough that it’s hard for me, at this point, to consider America “abroad.” It has been confusing at times—I’ve definitely wallowed in angst, lamenting about whether I belong anywhere. But it has also helped me fill in the blanks about who I am; living in America has helped strengthen the Indian part of my identity. I’m more inclined now to look up Bollywood movies on Netflix, to be excited about wearing a sari, to try to cook Indian food, and to relish speaking in Hinglish. And that’s just the superficial stuff.

Turns out: This is a thing backed up by research! A new study out of Rice University finds that the longer you live abroad, the more likely you are to have a clear sense of self. Does that ring true for you? If you’ve lived somewhere foreign (another country, or a city that seems like it’s on the other side of the world, culturally speaking), how has that shaped your identity?

Drop me a line with your thoughts at tmisra@theatlantic.com.

Reading List:

Crates of mangoes from Pakistan, a guitar signed by blues legend Buddy Guy, a robot, and… a skateboard? CityLab’s Feargus O’Sullivan categorized the gifts Sadiq Khan has received as London’s mayor.

More goodies from CityLab: Are artists really the “shock troops” of gentrification? ¤ What home means, in photos. ¤ America’s loneliest roads, mapped. ¤ Japan, through the eyes of three Very Good Dogs. ¤ “But to me, Amazon Go represents something more chilling than a direct threat to storefronts.” ¤ A photographer shines light on Gurgaon’s often-invisible workers. ¤

(Arthur Crestani)

Here's what else we're reading, watching, and listening to:

Postcards from everywhere in America. (Pacific Standard) ¤ “Within this imagined landscape of white blue-collar life, there’s the dismissal of Black people that shaped Midwestern cultures.” (Catapult) ¤ Chicago’s South Side, aka Funkytown. (The Guardian) ¤ “I thought, ‘Hey, I wonder if anyone’s been to every mailbox in Seattle?’”(Atlas Obscura) ¤ How Portlandia changed Portland. (Vulture) ¤ Home renovations: an unnecessary national pastime. (Curbed) ¤ The face that launched a thousand statues. (99% Invisible) ¤ Stories from border walls around the world. (This American Life) ¤ Appalachia is “a place rich in diversity, with communities whose members include LGBTQ and people of color, and where the working class is not just made up of white male coal miners.” (Guernica) ¤

View from the ground:

CityLab's own @jpgarnham examined the geometric patterns of Mexico City’s National Museum of Anthropology, @bobofeed shot a stretch of street in Toronto, @keithimus captured serenity and sun in the New York City Metropolitan Museum’s Cloisters, and @vickophoto photographed the crisscrossing lines and angles of a building in Montreal.

Tag us on Instagram with the hashtag #citylabontheground.

Over and out,

Tanvi

@Tanvim

About the Author

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