By Andrea Quintero
English Language Program
Life hasn’t been easy since I arrived in the United States. I came here with my dreams in mind, thinking that everything was going to be a perfect fairytale, but it was also my first time facing the world by myself in a completely different way. The truth is that I had never had to deal with adulthood on my own before coming here. Everything involving adult responsibilities would make me terrified, so I would always dream my way out of everything. Three weeks after my arrival, the pandemic happened. It was hard at first. I didn’t know what to do since I was new here, so having to live with an American host family while being in lockdown under a pandemic instead of living with my own family wouldn’t have been my first choice. I was so terrified that I considered leaving. At the same time, it was exciting, so I stayed. The best part of it all is that never would I have imagined that it was going to be my experience in the United States that would make me become the realistic dreamer that I am now.
Everyone that knows me knows that I’ve always wanted to be in the United States and speak English all day long. In fact, my friends and I would always joke about me being best friends with the Kardashians and being extremely successful in Hollywood, since I’m known for being an acting, music and makeup enthusiast. When I first arrived, I was a different person. I was excited and nervous about my future. (Well, that hasn’t changed much). I used to be more of a dreamer. I used to believe that everything was going to be like a fairytale. Turns out that life isn’t a fairytale, and I found that out the hard way. For a person like me, full of dreams and hopes, it was hard to face reality since no one taught me how to be realistic when I was younger.
I believe that childhood is an important part of what makes you who you are. It is true that you have the choice to change and to decide whether you want to keep making the same choices and mistakes or if you want to turn your life around, but it is hard to completely change if you’ve been raised a certain way. My story hasn’t been easy- nobody’s story is easy- but I can only speak for myself. The reason why I think I’m a dreamer is because in my childhood I needed to escape from my reality. One of the people who protected me from family traumas is my grandma. She encouraged me to think about another world and to use my imagination to ignore the pain of the violence happening just on the other side of the door. Thanks to that, I was able to travel in my imagination and to dream about being happy in a world that was violence free. I would also picture myself as an artist on a stage or in a movie set. That’s where I escaped the most. I don’t blame my mom or dad, and certainly not my siblings. I believe they are all victims of their stories and how they were raised. It’s just a vicious cycle. The priority that my parents gave me while growing up wasn’t much, so I had to learn most things about life for myself. Being here alone has been teaching me all about adulthood that I didn’t know. I truly love my parents; it just feels like I had to raise myself.
Since I arrived in the US, I found out that adulthood is interesting. One of my favorite parts has been learning to be independent. I’m learning how to take care of myself, pay bills, buy groceries, and all the things that adults do. It isn’t always fun though. I miss when I didn’t have to worry about anything, but also the challenge is great because it shows me how capable I am of achieving things for and by myself. My perspective of life has changed. I have become more independent, responsible and patient. Now not only am I a dreamer still, but I’m also more realistic and analytical, which may help me to achieve my dreams in the most rational way possible. I can still picture myself following the arts and being successful, but it may be not as magical as I used to believe it would be. Being here and having learnt all that I have, I know that the climb is going to be hard (if it isn’t already) and that I might not make my dreams come true, but one thing I know for sure is that I made the right decision coming to the United States, a country that may allow me to achieve my dreams just by combining them with my reality.