The Other Side

el coyote

Uriel Garcia∞

Some changes are for better or worse, but most of the time they bring positive consequences. The worst part of a change is that you must adapt to it. There are some issues which I am still facing due to the biggest change I have ever made, which was to move to the United States a few years ago. I had just finished with middle school back in Mexico and about two weeks of Preparatoria High School. One Thursday evening, while I was doing homework, my mom stood up in front of me and asked, looking straight into my eyes, “Would you like to go to the United States to finish your education?” I just sat there at my desk speechless, looking back at her eyes. I was not expecting her to ask me such an important question which would cause great changes in my life.

The first thoughts that went through my mind were, What about my friends? My school? My family? In other words, what was going to happen with my life in Mexico? Deep inside I was totally confused— all my feelings were mixed up because there were literally two sides to choose from. I was really excited to go and explore a new unknown world, and on the other hand I was sad, and could not even picture myself leaving my life and turning my back.

Finally, I said yes, and my mom asked me to organize my belongings and to prepare myself because the following Friday we would be leaving. I went to my last day of school, said good bye to my old friends and even the new ones that I had just made, then my family, and finally we left.

My nightmare started the following Monday when my mom went to our new school to matriculate us. One of the biggest challenges I am still facing is the language. Four years ago I did not know any English; I did not talk to anyone because I was so nervous, embarrassed, and felt somewhat silly.

During class I was always trying to understand what they were saying, and sometimes when I was alone in a corner of the classroom I had an awkward feeling because I saw people talking to each other, and I could swear it was about me. Those types of situations made me feel like an outsider. Everything around me was new— new people, new language, and a new lifestyle. I remember the first day I went to my English class my teacher, Mr. Jara, asked for my name and I told him my age. Then he asked for my age and I told him my name! I was nervous to death, the whole class was looking at me and I did not know how to react. Then Mr. Jara pointed to a seat so I went to sit.

This was the only way he could communicate with me by signs. Then I met an Asian guy, his name was Reymark, and we sort of came up with a well-developed and sophisticated system of communication, which consisted of using Google Translator on his cell phone. At the end I felt really uncomfortable with it and I stopped doing it because I was knew and people around me believed what I was doing it was pretty dumb. After that I decided to learn this language. I began reading newspapers, listening to the radio, watching TV and trying to speak in English all the time; even though I did not understand most of what I was saying.

Through newspaper I learned how to write, spell, and even how to place the words— because a big difference between writing in English and Spanish is the structure of sentences. One example are the adjectives which they most of the time go right before the noun. Listening to music in English helped a lot as well because I would go to the internet “YouTube”, and I would look up the songs’ lyrics—and that is how I learned how to say, pronounce, and to identify the words. When I heard people having a conversation I could not tell how many words they had just said in one sentence. In English you do not really pronounce the words as you write them, so that was another concern that I had. The TV shows that I used to watch were Dragon Tales, Sid the Science Kid, even Barney. I did not watch them because I liked them, but because they used a really basic English vocabulary, so they were easy for me to understand.  

Real friends are those who help you and take care of you. Fortunately, I have met people who helped me a lot. For example, my friend Alexa was like my personal teacher. She taught me how to speak English a little bit. She also gave me many tips about how to write it. I have met wonderful people here, but honestly I miss my old friends I left in Mexico. I only see them once or twice per month. Leaving my friends has been hard because most of my free time I spent, was with them. I have known them since I was in kindergarten. One of them is my friend Carlos. He is my best friend. We  are like brothers and share a lot with one another. It does not matter where my friends are, either Mexico or here in USA, I would not trade them. I am glad because I met them. On the other hand I also had to deal with people who instead of helping me would try to get me embarrassed because I said something wrong or they would just wait for me to screw something up so later they would male fun of me. Supposedly they would teach me how to say something when in reality they were trying to get me to insult people so to get mad at me. 

I have been here about three years, and I have not adapted to this place, not yet. However, I think spending time with my friends and my relatives is helping me a lot. This past summer I thought of getting a job. It is the first time I am doing this. I think this will be great because by doing this I can help my mother. Now my English is not too bad. I can understand, and honestly I am not worried about the job. This place has many rules and laws. I guess all of this will make me more respectful. My job and school are making me feel like this place is my new home.

Even though this change has brought me many issues, I am always trying to keep a good attitude, and be positive, and thus I have the strength that I need to survive and face my problems that I have to deal with these days. By doing this I will keep my mind away from negativity and I have better chances to not give up so easily. This change also has brought me good things at the same time. For example I have new friends, I am learning another language, I have a new house, new school, and lifestyles. It is true that I have not adapted fully, but I no longer feel like the outsider that I once had, when I first moved here. These years have helped me to be a little bit more mature and began to be more responsible. When I lived in Mexico I got used to a life in which my parents provided me everything they could, so I did not have to do much. I carry many experiences and memories with me from all of this. I believe this is part of growing up, discovering new things every single day, acquiring knowledge. I have done many things well, but I also have made mistakes. The good thing is I have learned from every experience.