Posts Tagged family

Adventures in Brazil!!

jesse-85It’s hard to believe that just a few weeks ago, I was in a different country, time zone, and hemisphere. Up until college, I had only known California and small, poor parts of Mexico (where my family is originally from) but now I am enjoying the culture, language, and beaches of Brazil!

I am currently participating in a Harvard Summer Study Abroad Program that gives me the opportunity of studying- and experiencing- three very unique cities of Brazil: Sao Paulo, Paraty, and Rio de Janeiro.

I never thought in a million years that I’d be able to travel the world, see so many new things and have so many new experiences but here I am- doing just that. And for FREE! Definitely one of the great things about college. Make sure you start brainstorming where you want to go for when you get here! Colleges usually have a very wide selection of Study Abroad Programs to choose from. Where will you go?

I will be chronicling my experiences in Brazil through a video blog. Below is the introduction to the journey!

I will also have videos about my experiences in China and Spain, which are coming after Brazil! I am excited to see the world through a new lens. These study abroad programs will definitely provide exciting adventures. I hope you tune in!

Phantom Limb

seanna-85Imagine sitting at the kitchen table every night, head bent over bills, trying to make pennies stretch into places where dollar bills are necessary…

…Working fifty hours a week behind a desk, then returning to work five more hours each night, cooking…cleaning…ironing…reviewing eighth grade Math, English & Science…

…Walking in circles for a few hours…lost & disoriented…unsure of where you are, where you were going, and where you are now supposed to be…

…Your hand being unable to open that ketchup bottle…water bottle…jar of jelly…too weak to twist off that “easy-open” cap…

…Inserting shots into your stomach every two weeks to maintain consciousness, trying to find a spot that isn’t too sore from the last shot & isn’t too tough from the 60+ shots that came before…


You’re imagining my mom.


Imagine running from the bus to your house, running from bullies who grab you right before you make it to the door, throw down your bag and jump you…

…Sitting in class every day, frustrated by the endless numbers and words that jump out from the lifeless pages of your textbook, your uncertainty developing into embarrassment…

…Waiting for hours for your father to show up with that game he promised, only to find out that he wasn’t able to stretch his check that far…maybe next month…

…Burning inside with energy and anger that you can’t explain, can’t contain, and can’t shake…emotions that need to find their way out, but remain trapped inside…

…Struggling with teenage thoughts, hormones, & doubts…trying to find your way in a world where kids are cruel, teachers don’t listen, and Mom is on her own & stressed…


You’re imagining my little brother.


Imagine loving the opportunities that are presented at your college, embracing the friends, classes, teachers & new activities…

…Waking up each day with your own agenda, going to sleep at night with a list of things “To-Do” the next day…all seeming as urgent & important as yesterday’s…

…Being thankful that you’ve been blessed with so much, financial aid, Office of Black Student Affairs, mentors…knowledge…

…Picking up the phone to hear about how hectic your mom’s day has been…why your brother got suspended yet again, and how the car broke down on the interstate…AGAIN…

…Knowing that you can’t be there to beat up those bullies, iron his shirt, or open that ketchup bottle…

…Imagine 1,794 miles…


Now, you’re imagining me.


Growing up, I was my mom’s right hand.  I helped her before she realized she needed assistance.  I played with my brother, relishing in my role as his sister.  The six years between us made me more like a second mother than a big sister.  When I decided to go to school so far away from home, leaving family behind was the hardest decision.  I was still only a phone call away, but I was also $600 and at least 7 hours from home. 

My advice to those of you who are considering college out-of-state: GO FOR IT.  Weigh your options carefully, but the next four years of your life will be a time of growth, change, and adjustment.  Although I did get homesick my first year, and I hate hearing about the problems my brother & mom go through, I wouldn’t trade my experience at Pomona for anywhere else.  Learning to balance my life away from home with the one I had before & will have after graduation has helped me learn how to stay in contact with those that I care about & vice versa. 

You don’t lose your family or close friends by moving outside state lines.  In fact, those who are most important will remain with you, even if the communication style changes.  It also helps that my mom and brother are fully supportive of my decision, and that other students at school, including my best friend, traveled far from home, as well.  There will be up’s and down’s, but I know that looking back, I will appreciate the risk I took & the sacrifices that everyone dear to me made for these four years.  

I text my mom every morning & tell her good night, every evening…so even though I am not there physically, I’m still her right hand…and I’m still willing to go above and beyond as her daughter & as Thurm’s big sister…

“The distance is nothing…it is only the first step that is difficult…” (Madame Marie du Deffand)

College Choice and Homesickness

jenny-85Everyone congratulates you when you get accepted somewhere. Yay! Great! You got in! Whoo-hoo! But no one tells you that now…you must CHOOSE. It might not be hard for some. I mean, community college…or Harvard. Or maybe you had a college you were already set on. Great.

For me, I was only concerned with UC Davis and Amherst College. At first, I thought “UC Davis all the way!” It was convenient, close to home. My cousins went there. Mom and Dad wanted me nearby. And to someone who loved family above all else, Davis was going to be my choice. All my friends from elementary school and middle school were going to be there. I had it all planned out. It was going to be great!

One night, I thought about it. Did I really want to be in a big school and be just another number? Did I want to go somewhere and explore a bit? Be more independent? Those thoughts landed me in Amherst College. When I told my dad I wanted to go to Amherst, Dad didn’t talk to me for the whole evening. He just went on about his business, lost in thought. He almost walked into the door and then looked around to see if anyone was watching. I saw, but didn’t say anything, just chuckled to myself. I felt as if I needed to grow up, and then come back as a capable, independent person so I could take care of my family. He was not going to sway me from my decision.

Later that night, he gave me his awkward one-armed hug, and said, “You can do whatever you want. It’s your choice.” Translation of awkward daddy talk: I approve.

It’s hard being away from home. Food. FOOD! I’m sorry, but even professional chefs have nothing on my mom’s home cooking. I miss my friends. I mean, these are kids I shared candy with in 3rd grade. Sometimes, I see professors and their little children running about, and I immediately think of my little nine year old brother, and how I’d give anything to hug him right then and there. And then I pretend something flew in my eye when my friends ask why I’m crying.

To all of you considering going to school far away, there’s Facebook (Yes, I know, it’s a procrastinator magnet.). There’s video chat, email, phones. There’s something called mail. I know that they’re poor substitutes for the real thing, but I’m dealing with it too. Homesickness gets better with time. Trust me, once the work settles in, WHOO, you won’t have time to SLEEP! You’ll be fine.

Soon as exams are over, I’m flying home. And then run into the kitchen and demand that Mom make me a bowl of pho.

Destination: Home

sophia-85Spring break, you managed to swoop in and save me at the best possible time. When I was at the peak of my stressing out, you allowed me to have the break I needed.

Well, right now, I’m not really on my break yet. I’m sitting in a train for seventeen hours until I finally get to be home. This year it seems like I’m really working for my spring break.

There is nothing more rewarding than being able to go home and just simply relax.

It’s insane to think that I picked a school like Chico State with one of the reasons being that it was eight hours away from home. At the time, that didn’t seem nearly far enough, but I figured I was willing to compromise.

People always have trouble at home, you always want to get away. It’s just funny how now that I got away, I cannot wait to get back.

This does not mean that I don’t like Chico State. I love it and I love how it made me realize the amazing things I had and still have at home.

I realized that every break I have for college, I don’t think about going anywhere else but home first.

This train ride is only a small price to pay for the joy I’ll gain from spending time with my family and sleeping in my old room.

My hands are trembling with excitement to be able to see the enormous city of Los Angeles, which was once just a place, but is now more of a characteristic I have.

When you move away, people relate you to where you are from and there is no greater feeling than being proud about where you are from.

With all this talk about how I miss my home, I leave you with the advice to look into schools that are a little farther from your comfort zone.

The independence and maturity that is built is worth the long drives home and back. The problems that once drove you crazy at home, become a nostalgic story.

Anywho, I hope everyone has or even had a good break! Cherish what you have and I’ll write to you later.

Sometimes, I hate that I love college

jenny-85College is hard at times. Being away from your family. Not having mom’s pho or fried rice. Getting a fever even though you have a paper due soon. And then feeling like you had the ground pulled out from under you only to realize you just stepped on some black ice.

But along with those times, you get the good stuff. Laughing at a Facebook post with your roommate at 2 in the morning even though you’re supposed to be working on your essay. Waking up the next day with your head feeling like mush, only to see a text from a buddy telling you to meet up for breakfast. The little things that make your day seem not so bad.

Then there’s meeting people. Others that are perhaps more ambitious or smarter than you. Others that have dreams and come from different backgrounds. I would be lying if I said you’d meet nice people everywhere, but among the less sociable ones, you get friends. Then you find joy in talking with them and understanding where they come from. Maybe even sharing music tastes or book titles. I was introduced to Korean pop music.  And I am quite happy I have.

It’s these little things. Making friends and meeting people that you normally wouldn’t have a chance to. Taking a film and writing class that requires a lot of time you don’t have, but actually enjoying writing that essay because that movie was REALLY good. Or seeing a light at the end of the tunnel when your chemistry homework actually made sense. (I almost cried, but I told my roommate it was the eye drops.)

Valentine’s Day was just same old same old. But as I walked back to my room to drop off books, I noticed something on my door knob. There were several valentines from my dorm mates hanging there. And suddenly my day didn’t seem too bad as I walked out again to another class, chocolate melting in my cheek.

I love these little things.

Snowboarding is like College!

jesse-85There’s this huge snowstorm going on in Boston right now and it reminded me of snowboarding for the first time in Denver. If you want to see how it went and how snowboarding is like college, check out this video!

Back From My Internship!

jesse-85School has started! I’m definitely excited for this new semester and ready for another fresh start. I am definitely grateful for such an amazing winter break that has helped me learn so much.

Whenever you’re on break, it’s very important to rest, relax and be with friends and family. This is one of my favorite parts about breaks from school- you get time to catch up on sleep and also time to catch up with the ones you love. Another thing I really enjoy about breaks is that you have a chance to take part in something that you may not have the time to while school is in session.

While I was on winter break, I was lucky enough to take part in an internship in Denver, Colorado at a network of public charter schools whose student body was 90% Latino and 94% Free/Reduced Lunch. I enjoyed my time at the internship very much because I was able to connect with the students and show them that I too come from a similar background and that I was able to make it to college. I learned a lot from the students and I also learned a lot about the administrative aspects of the schools I was working with which definitely helped me understand what it takes to keep a school running smoothly.

Overall, my experience at West Denver Prep was amazing! It was time very well spent. I encourage you to find ways to make the best of your breaks too. Breaks are a time for rest and also a time for growth! Make the most of your time. Find something to get involved in! Make an impact!

If you want to see how the first week of my time in Denver went, check out this video! There will be more videos to come so be ready!

Restful and Productive

leah-85Winter break! It felt so good to be home. I really missed my family. I didn’t know how much I missed them but apparently it was a lot since every second I wanted to spend time with them.

For winter break I did what I always wanted to do: sleep! After working hard for so long, it’s good to take a break as long as it is restful and productive.

During break, I also had the wonderful opportunity to shadow a Swarthmore graduate at her job. I shadowed a doctor in an emergency room and it was amazing. I had access to things many people do not usually see. One thing I should say about networking is that it is important to be observant, to be enthusiastic, and to jump in whenever possible. People want to help you succeed in life, but you need to show them that you are responsible and can contribute in a positive way. My host was very kind to me and gave me such encouraging words. She told me to do it my way. And my way means giving it my all and making sure that I have no regrets.

I’ll post something up soon! Good luck with school and applications seniors!

Giving Thanks: Past and Present

ashley-85As Thanksgiving is upon us, it is once again time to give thanks, and I want to give thanks to those in my past and in my future who have helped me get to where I am today.

I am very thankful for those teachers who were always there to help me, two specifically. A teacher in high school was probably the first person that made me feel like I truly belonged and had faith in me and in my future.  This year I have a sociology professor that has helped me find the right path for me and my future.

An obvious group to thank are always friends, who are always there to support and help me when I am down, and family, although there are some who have made this a difficult process, there are others who have made it worth it. Especially my brother, who I pretty much would be at a lost if it weren’t for him.

Of course I want to thank CSO. Not only do they give me help with paying for school, but they also give me the opportunity to help others like me, which is what I want to devote my life to doing.

Lastly, I want to thank my uncle, who passed away. He was the father that I never had. I am eternally grateful for what he did for me and I am not sure I would be here if it wasn’t for him. I never got to thank him but I am more and more thankful everyday and I wish I would have told him that.

So my advice to you: thank the people you are grateful for. We take so many people and things for granted. I know at times it might feel like it is you against the world, but you will find that some of the people you least expect to be helpful are sometimes the most helpful.