I was born and raised in Mexico City in a strong middle-class family and society. When I was 16 years old, a series of opportunities came along, and we had the chance to move to the U.S for “a year”. It was exciting for several reasons, and since it was temporary, I didn’t feel like I was really leaving anything behind. What really struck me, was that things were nothing like I imagined them.
I changed my own definition of what being Mexican means.
At first it was really hard for me to understand other Mexicans with a completely different perspective of Mexico from mine. I even stopped speaking so people wouldn’t hear me and classify me into stereotypes I didn’t feel a part of. It was hard for me to accept that Mexico isn’t kind to most people as it was to me. However, slowly but surely, I accepted this, and I learned to love and deeply respect the Mexican immigrants who do risk it all to try to have a better life, because they know that in their homeland, they’re not going to get it.
My biggest cultural shock was the racial inequality.
For those who don’t know, Mexico is ZERO diverse. We’re all Mexican. So, we suffer from socioeconomic inequality rather than a racial one. I guess that’s the reason why I never considered myself less capable than anybody to do anything I set myself to do. And it was infuriating to me when suddenly, society started limiting my possibilities just because of where I’m from. Sadly, I learned that it does make a difference to be a white European immigrant, to be a Hispanic Immigrant, and to be more specific, Mexican. It makes me happy to see that I’m not the only one who’s determined to change that and I’m proud of all the accomplishments of people like me who were told they couldn’t do something because of their origins and now they’re doing it.
By the end of the first year, my life was a 100% different from how it was when I arrived, from how I said my name to the perception of my body, the world, and my country; the second year, it was 100% different from the end of the first year; the third was 100% from the second and so on. I changed too along with it, and I’m proud of myself for what I have achieved and everything that I have let go.
In the end, the U.S became my home too. I made friends, I learned how to drive, I fell in love, and I started projects and had new dreams. Basically, life happened. So, it broke my heart to leave. Hahaha but the story isn’t over yet.
Stay tuned for the next section of the series which was my high school experience and how it was crucial on how it made me who I am today!