As I closed the dorm room door on parents in the summer of August 2011 I knew what I had done was irreversible. I was now completely alone in the big city of Austin, Texas.
Those first weeks at The University of Texas at Austin were some of the hardest times of my life. I had never known anything but El Paso. The heat and humidity in Austin was unbearable for me. I became convinced that my hair would never be anything but a frizzy afro. Real Mexican food didn't exist anywhere on campus. I had to actually walk places. I had no friends or family in Austin. But the biggest change I encountered was being surrounded by people who weren't Mexican American. Deciding to attend UT was the biggest wake up call of my life.
Honestly, I considered going home many times. However when I was finished throwing myself a pity party, I realized that I needed to stop making comparisons between Austin and El Paso. Austin would never be El Paso, so I learned to make the best of the environment I had chosen for myself. Little by little I found quick fixes to my homesickness. I invested in a bottle of anti-frizz shampoo, got a good pair of walking shoes, learned to cook, and much to my surprise found a community of El Pasoans that had made the switch to UT as well.
As my second year at UT comes to a close I am realizing how much I have learned and changed. I believe the biggest lesson I have learned here is being able to appreciate my culture. Before my move to UT I didn't really understand what it meant to be a Latina. I was often ashamed and annoyed with my culture. Moving away from my hometown has allowed me to step back and reevaluate what it means to be an El Pasoan, a sister, a daughter, a friend, a student and above all a proud Latina.
There is not a day that goes by when I don't miss what I left behind, but I don't regret my decision to move. I know one day I will return, but not until my work is done here. So join me as I blog about my experiences as an El Paso Chica In Austin. For those of you chicas who are hoping to move away for college, or have already done so I hope my blogs can offer you some comfort and advice!