My name is Valentina Mendez.
"My WHOLE LIFE was just in two bags; the other three had my mom’s life."

Bogotá, Colombia

Boston, Massachusetts



I left my home… I lost everything

I always knew I had to come to the U.S. to live, but I never thought it was going to have so many challenges. Before coming to the U.S. my mom and I had to sell everything we had in our apartment: our sofas, TVs, radio, dryer and washer, dining table and a lot of things you cannot even imagine. We arrived at the U.S. just with five bags. My WHOLE LIFE was just in two bags; the other three had my mom’s life. And those are just material things. I also lost my friends who I grew up with, lost my boyfriend, for me, the best weather in the world, my awesome bedroom, now I sleep in a big closet which was adapted to be a bedroom, and of course many aspects changed too.

The first days I did not realize I was staying here for good because I came to the U.S. on vacation before. But days started passing, and feelings started growing, I started missing my neighborhood, my independence, going out on weekends, go to parties, I am eighteen, I could go out to clubs and drink, now I cannot, I do not have friends, anything.

I was not feeling well about being in the U.S. because I felt alone. My dream of going to college was becoming real. However, college was also a complete challenge. Applying to college in the U.S. is different from my country, the biggest challenge was to apply to Financial Aid. I did not understand very well what I had to do. Anyways I was so excited about getting started that I did not mind doing the paperwork. So I was just waiting to start college and leave my loneliness apart, forget that I lost everything.

The day of orientation arrived, which was my first college experience. I had many expectations. I thought everything was going to change and be great. I thought I was going to have a lot of friends, go out, and have fun. But it was not like that. I felt different from everyone else, I was so nervous I could not speak English well, everybody connected with someone but I did not. I was trying to connect and make friends; I went to the karaoke that night. I knew all the songs they were singing, but they danced differently than me. I think I am “open-minded,” but they were dancing pretty exaggerated to me, for them it was normal. I cried that night; I felt I was not going to fit in, be part of this new world, not be different from everyone, just be one normal person more, not the ‘new Spanish girl.' I used to make friends easily back home but in the U.S. I could not. I was hoping to have a roommate that night, but instead, I had to sleep alone. Because it was so cold I was not able to sleep, worst night ever. My only hope of start an awesome and full of friends life in the U.S. fell.

Now, despite I left my ‘comfort zone’, where I had my friends, my house, and boyfriend. And I am feeling alone. I am focusing on school and trying to change my day by day; I know everything is going to be better, everything is going to change, and I will be me again, more dreams and hope are waiting for me.