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Living Abroad in AmericaNidia Pascual
I first came to the United States when I was nineteen years old to study English, and I didn’t study just the language but the culture, too. As you may realize, I did not sayAmerica; even up until today my Mexican heritage tells me that Mexico is also named the United States, and that America is a continent.
Not knowing anyone or anything, I came to an environmentsurrounded by freshmen who lived in on-campus housing. I first came with the determination to master the English language, and I did a couple of extreme things in order to try to be part of the culture. Thefirst day I was in my dorm, I decided to introduce myself to all thirty-nine residents of my floor. I also decided to go to all the activities that my ward offered and to not have Spanish-speakingfriends. I even asked my roommate, who was bilingual, to speak to me in English only. In order to learn the language, I did my best to become part of the American culture. This was a mature decision fora nineteen year old, because I never knew what people were saying, and I did not have any true friendships. I soon realized that, as any other human, I needed to talk to people who understood me andwho understood my language and my culture.
So during my second semester at the English Language Center, I started hanging out with people who attended the same boarding school that I went to inMéxico City. Even though we had not been friends in our high school, we actually bonded because we had similar backgrounds. I then decided to have a balance in my life, and I became friends with people fromboth cultures.
As part of my experience in the American culture, I had ignorant people ask me if Mexicans were still wearing the Mariachi outfits for everyday life or if we still ride...