(Author’s Full Name)
Born in Peru, I came to USA in 2003. I had just completed my third grade secondary; equivalent to 9th grade high school in USA. As enthusiastic as I was, I was leaving behind that epoch of illusions, shyness, brotherhood, alternative rock and passive life forever.
My journey to Miami best describes my life in America; like an emotional roller coaster ride. I was travelling with my aunt Isabel, who I barely knew. The flight was delayed by 2 hours. There was a storm in Miami. Our plane jolted every now and then. Eight flight hours later, we finally landed. We stayed in Miami with my foster family (which was my aunt Neomi, her husband and daughter).
My first month in America was pleasant. At the age of 14, I was expected to make the first adult decision of my life; I chose to stay in America rather than going back to Peru.
Soon, I was enrolled at a badly-reputed local school. I faced a cultural shock due to the difference between my private Peruvian schooling and the local US high school norms and thus, my first two years in high school were troublesome.
In my freshman year, I wanted to be popular, not a nerd. As a result, my grades improved on an academic level, yet my troubled personality persisted.
In my junior year, I realized that there were better ways to smooth out conflicts, rather than acting out. The school environment also changed, with most gang members expelled. Or maybe it was perception, since I took courses with only studious people. My relationship with my aunt Neomi improved. We rarely got along, but it was time to let go. Since I had always been an independent child and to avoid further conflicts with my family, I moved out of my aunt’s house when I was 18.
I joined my community college. Given my love for technology, it was easy for me to choose my major: computer engineering. I managed three jobs and saved enough to pay for future semester fees. With a little help of my mom and my father (living in Miami), I also managed to pay my international tuition fees, rent and even purchase a brand new car. I finally got a chance to visit my mother, after six years, although briefly. During my visit, I realized the wisdom of my decision to stay in the States.
Sometime later, my dad moved back to Peru and refused to make the lease payments for my car. With looming financial crisis, I started working part-time again while trying to maintain my 4.0 GPA. To save on my rent, I accepted an offer by my girlfriend to move in with her. Our relationship soured. We fought almost every day, and my grades suffered. I broke up with her and moved out of her home. I was eligible to apply for financial aid at school. This meant improving my GPA and joining the PHI THETA KAPPA honor society.
A day before finals, my mom called to tell me that the doctors identified a non-malignant tumor on her right kidney, which required a risky surgery. After my exams, I flew to Peru. Luckily, her cancer was in stage 0. She was on medications. But she was weak and fragile, and I had to stay with her for a while and help her regain health. Back in Miami, I had several unpaid bills and no job. My landlord also found a new tenant.