By Valeria Ramirez
My first year of college has been the best and the worst time that I’ve experienced in my life. The first time I came to the University of Idaho, I was amazed of how easily I connected with people. No matter what type of differences that a person had, I always find a way to connect with them. Aside from that I knew I was in for an experience; it was the first time that I was on my own. I had to deal with problems head on without the help of my parents and deal with my own self in many social situations.
The first few months were the hardest to deal with on my own. I’ve dealt with the multiple responsibilities of balancing my bank account and dealing with homesickness that lasted for over a month. My family is my top priority and my greatest motivator, without them I felt lost. That homesickness crept on me by surprise and kept me from growing as a person. The only way to cure my homesickness is by spending all of my time studying and finishing my assignments that lasted into the late-night hour. I suffered the consequences automatically, and I started to fall asleep in most of my classes. I was sleep-deprived and couldn’t focus on any of my classes. It became a real problem for the majority of the time I was here. I knew that the only way to fix this problem was by changing my work schedule and have time for myself and time to sleep. I saw a huge change in my behavior and the way I acted and how much improved in myself.
I started to go out more and joined various of clubs that kept me busy in a socially. I’ve made countless of friends that I would never have met if it wasn’t for me joining those clubs. These organizations showed me more about my culture and gave me an understanding about myself. I soon became more proud of where I come from and more vocal about the social issues that are happening around me. Being aware of the many situations that my own culture is going through was an awakening experience. I realized that I wanted to do more for my community, I wanted to give a voice for those who are voiceless. I always had that dream of protecting immigrants from those who are trying to keep them from staying here. Now I want to expand that by helping farmworkers battle the unfair treatment they go through. Joining these organizations made me aware of myself and the struggles of others. Even joining this team of wonderful writers exposed the many struggles that women undergo through. I have finally realized new things about myself and the many ways that I can speak up.
College is and always will be the greatest thing that has happened to me so far, even though I might be spending hours on an assignment and dealing with sleep deprivation that follows. The one thing that college has given me is a clear identity of who I am. I met people from different backgrounds and heard their stories. I’ve realized what type of privileges that I have and what I don’t. Understanding people is what gave me the inspiration to do whatever it takes to help that person reach social equity. I am grateful for the journey that I had so far and the years that I have to come.