By Maria Teresa Arias
I walked between dry heaves, counting homes and streets while drying the sweat from my forehead. It was my first month in Texas. The August sun burned in the afternoon as if it was still the middle of the day.
I fought back tears as I tried to find my new house, because I got lost. After 30 minutes of walking in the hellish heat, I found it. I walked in, went straight to my bedroom and turned up the air conditioner to maximum capacity. I threw myself in my bed and started crying.
I wanted to go home.
Maybe it seems overly dramatic now, but moving to another country is a life-changing experience that affected me in every way possible. I moved from Quito, Ecuador, to Dallas in August 2011.
I first found out I was moving to the U.S. when I got my visa, and I thought it would be great because I had vacationed here before and loved it.
My sister and I came to live with my aunt and uncle. My friends and family told me how much I was going to miss my home and how hard it was going to be to adapt, but I did not believe them until I saw how different things here really are.
Coming to Dallas in the summer meant experiencing a heat I never even thought possible. The weather was always the same in my hometown; we do not have seasons there, so it is either warm or cold.
I had to wait 40 minutes for the bus in the heat during mornings and afternoons. Bus fare prices were shockingly high compared to what I paid back home. Here I pay $1.75 for a single ride, whereas in Ecuador, I paid 25 cents.
The biggest problem I have had is getting accustomed to the food.
I remember getting home one day and making a dish my dad makes back home that is a mixture of rice, cheese and ham. It looked just like my dad’s version but tasted nothing like it.
The sadness of these experiences caused me to suffer a cultural shock and emotional distress.
It has been difficult getting used to thinking, speaking and writing in English. It has been a challenge to make friends.
I have found it difficult to stay strong but have learned the importance of looking out for myself. I have changed more in one semester than I have in the last couple of years.
I know studying in the U.S. is a huge opportunity for me because I can go back to my country and contribute to its progress and promote positive change.
I want to succeed, so all the sacrifices I have made will not go to waste.