Mariandrea Vergel Prieto/Guest Columnist
I was 17-years-old when I decided to move out. But I wasn’t just moving from one house to another—I moved countries.
I left Venezuela three years ago with hopes of pursuing a journalistic career in the United States. To some people I was just a kid when I left my home behind without my parents and siblings, but to me it meant the beginning of new opportunities.
Arriving to the U.S. as an international student, I first attended a college up in Sarasota, a beautiful town three hours away from Miami. It was definitely a new experience living in a small town where diversity was not one of its main characteristics, nonetheless, I felt very welcomed in it. Sarasota was definitely the place where I got out of my comfort zone and was exposed to the American culture I often saw in movies.
One year and a half I graduated college with an associate’s degree and decided to attend FIU where I applied and luckily got in!
To be completely honest attending FIU has been such an incredible experience. Not only because I have been welcomed by the community, but also because it feels like home.
As much as I liked Sarasota it just didn’t feel as comfortable and exciting. Miami on the other hand is the greatest melting pot in the U.S. if I do say so myself, and it has given me the opportunity to learn from so many different cultures.
It’s funny because being an international student from Venezuela up in Sarasota was such a big deal. Everyone always asked me how I did it, why I decided to move here, where I had learnt English and would often ask where in the world was Venezuela! But in Miami and at FIU, Venezuelans are popping out of every corner. This was such a bizarre thing for me to grasp when I started attending school in Miami, but quickly I became accustomed to it. It’s amazing how exposure works are how most people seems to go with it in South Florida.
Now, I’m not going to lie, at times it is a little difficult. Spending Christmas and birthdays without my family is not the greatest feeling, but getting to know new people and making new friends has certainly been worth it. I have learned so much by stepping out of my comfort zone, taking a leap of faith and moving to a foreign country where I didn’t know if I was going to adapt to its society. It has definitely been a wild journey but I wouldn’t change a thing.
Finally, I’m graduating next year and I can tell you being an international student at FIU absolutely rocks! Except for when I have to pay for my tuition—that part does suck a little. But all in all it has been an experience that I will never forget.
Photo courtesy of Erik Rasmussen on Flickr.