COMING TO THE U.S.: AN EXPERIENCE THAT CHANGED MY LIFE

700409016.jpg

∞ Valeria Del Castillo
A moment of crisis in my life was when I moved to the U.S. I was ten and I didn’t wanted to leave my friends that I had in Tijuana. I didn’t wanted to learn a whole new language or go to a different school. I was sad and mad with my parents because I felt like they didn’t care what I was feeling. I wanted to do whatever I could so they would send me back. But at one point I realized why this was the best for my brothers and I. This experience helped me learn new things such as a new language, new sports, and new passions.
Moving to a new country was difficult. I felt it was a pretty drastic change because it was so different from what I was used to. Back in Tijuana I was use to play outside everyday after school with all the kids from the neighborhood. When we arrived at our new home we thought there were no kids because they wouldn’t go outside— maybe sometimes but it was totally different. I didn’t want to attend a new school. When I did, I wouldn’t pay attention. I didn’t even try. I wanted to get kicked out. I didn’t want to make any friends. I remember being alone at lunch and recess. I would go to the restroom and stay there or just sit down under a tree near by, all by myself. I changed my attitude completely from prior to coming to the U.S.

I used to be really friendly and talkative, and all that changed. My parents would get mad but were worried at the same time. The principal would call them in. They would talk to me and ask what was happening. I would tell them that they already knew I didn’t want to be here. They always were trying to tell me how moving was a good change for my brothers and me. I would always respond with “If it was the best for me and my brothers, then how come when we were born we moved to Tijuana just a couple months after?” They never really gave me a solid answer for that, they just wanted me to understand something that I couldn’t see. I stopped going to dance class even though I loved the class. I told my parents that if we were moving then I wouldn’t participate in anything, including dance.
When I started middle school I learned to deal with the change and began making the best of my situation. I started to learn a new language without even noticing and I enjoyed the duality. I developed a love for learning languages. I started to talk to people and make new friends. I was being myself again. At that moment I asked my mom if we could look for dance classes in the area and we did. Once high school started I started trying different things. I participated in sports year round: Track and Field and Cross-Country. I discovered theatre—and during my sophomore year I joined the Drama club and I fell in love with it. I started taking French my last two years of high school and it’s one of those things that I kept at, because I really want to learn as many languages as I could. I had the opportunity to stay one month at UCSD to live the college experience the summer before senior year. This experience also gave me the opportunity to travel. Last summer I had the experience of studying French in France, and I got the chance to visit other places. I don’t really know if I would have had that opportunity back home. I also met my best friend and a lot of new people. All this made me really happy and helped me realize I was in the right place.
I remember during this time my dad would go to Tijuana every day to work, and still does. I asked him if he could take me to our home over there. I couldn’t because of school, but they took me during the weekends. For the first year, sometimes we went to Tijuana when we could. Sometimes we stayed in our home, but most of the time we had to come back to the U.S. It got to a point where I felt that I didn’t even need to go back to be comfortable. I was starting a new life—or I was just starting to actually live—and was beginning enjoy my youth.

At the beginning, I didn’t know it but this move opened a lot of doors for me. I was young when I moved and I couldn’t realize how selfish I was being by not embracing the culture and opportunities. I know a lot of people who moved to the U.S. for a while, some loved it and others it just wasn’t for them. I know there are going to be a lot of things that I will miss if I move too far from San Diego. I like to have the experience of both countries. I feel more secure in the U.S. but I identify way more with the culture in Mexico—to me it’s more fun. No matter how hard the change was, my family never changed. I still have such a united family: we go out to eat, the movies, and my brothers’ soccer games. We still incorporate our culture in everything we do such as food, family unity, and holidays.

I don’t know what would have happened if I had never moved. I don’t know what kind of experiences I would have had over there, but I know which ones I’ve had over here. I discovered a whole new passion, I made an amazing friendship, and I tried things that maybe I wouldn’t have tried back home. Things always happen for a reason and now I know what the reason was. The move made me learn new things, it helped me get involve with different cultures, which is never bad. Now I can look at life with a different perspective and with a lot more experience for my age. I discovered how I really like living here and the benefits living here brings me. Like I said before, I wouldn’t like to move too far from the country that saw me grow up, but then again a lot of the growth happened for me in the U.S. I hold both experiences close. I never want to forget where I come from.