By Melanie Arriaga
So you guys know the feeling of changing schools right? The first days jitters, the clammy hands you feel when you have to stand up and present yourself to the class, oh and lets not forget the moments when you suddenly forget the ability to speak. This is quite normal when you are transferring schools, but this was a whole different level. In the middle of 7th grade I decided to leave San Francisco and move to Mexico.
Before my move, I had never been to Mexico, and I knew nothing of the schooling system. I also didn’t know how to speak the language (aside from a few basic things to my grandma). Why did I do this? Well that is pretty obvious to me:
- I did not have any friends worth staying for
- I had not seen my mom in at least 13 years
- I felt San Francisco was, at the time, “toxic” for me
You might question why I would decide to make this drastic change, given the point of not knowing anything about the school system, and my pathetic ability of not speaking Spanish, But at the moment I was feeling a little spontaneous at the moment.
When I arrived in Mexico (Baja California) I immediately noticed the difference. For example in Tijuana, there was definitely a lack diversity. Also, the buildings looked like they were going to fall apart, the streets had no stop signs and there were a lot of dirt roads. Also, unlike in the U.S. where you have the option to dress however you want, in Mexico it is required for you wear a uniform, along with your hair up.
Another thing that made the transition hard was that I had a hard time learning Spanish. My mother would force me to stop speaking English ( The only language I was fluent in), in order for me to start picking up Spanish in less than 5 months. It was hell. I often found myself frustrated when trying to communicate with her because I knew she understood English but she would scold me if I were to speak it. Of course I did start learning more Spanish. I often questioned myself about why I was there, struggling to keep up, when I could have easily gone back to SF and gone to school the way i was accustomed.
In my 3 years of living in Mexico I learned a lot about myself. Eventually I realized that my struggles were teaching me valuable lessons, such as being patient, not taking insults personally, working harder if you want to get better at a certain subject, and lastly to be polite to every person even if you cannot understand them. But the most important lesson that I learned overall was self acceptance.