Latina Moms Will Probably Hate This, But Studying Abroad Is The Best Thing You Could Do
One of the most amazing opportunities that come with college is being able to study abroad. Unfortunately, there are a ton of reasons why most of us choose not to study out of the country (*cough* mom, I’m looking at you *cough*). UC Merced student, Camerina Morales decided to just jump in and go for it and these are all the reasons why she’s glad she did.
Most students are terrified to even apply because mom damn near had a heart attack when you went to college *30 minutes away from home.* Now, imagine what she’d say if you tell her you’re going to another country.
One of the first internal struggles Camerina faced when deciding whether she wanted to study abroad or not was having to tell her parents.
“They never said yes. My mom and my dad both were completely against it. They just didn’t think it was necessary. My mom said, ‘you’re already going to a university, you’re already away from home, why do you have to go further across the country to get the same education that you’re getting here.’ And my dad had told me that it was very selfish of me. They just never said yes.”
And even if you get your parents’ approval, there’s still another huge problem – money.
Being able to afford studying abroad, especially in a place like Europe, was really difficult for Camerina and her family.
“I worked the entire summer before going and got some financial aid, but I still didn’t have enough money. I was able to pay for my flight and pay for my first two months there, but after that, I just couldn’t. I didn’t have money. And my parents obviously couldn’t afford to finance me. It’s not that they didn’t want to help me, they just couldn’t. For them it was a burden.”
And this money problem only got even worse towards the end of her trip:
“I got my wallet stolen when I was there and it was my last amount of money. So when that happened I called my mom and she was freaking out. To be logistical, I took around $4,000, and my girlfriend still helped me with over $1,000. If it wasn’t for that, I would’ve had to come home because I had no money, and I still had another month and a half abroad.”
On top of the financial burden, there’s also the fear of traveling outside of the country for the first time, but most of all, the fear of traveling alone.
Before studying abroad, Camerina had never traveled outside of the country, which was something that scared both her parents and herself:
“My mom was worried about what was I going to eat, what was I going to do and she thought it was super dangerous. I was very nervous, but also excited. I didn’t have anyone. I was going to a completely different country where I knew nothing and no one.”
Traveling alone only becomes more difficult when you’re extremely close to your family. Homesickness hits hard and there isn’t much you can do when you’re thousands of miles away.
As much as Camerina enjoyed her time abroad, there were many special family events and holidays that she couldn’t be a part of because she was out of the country:
“It was harder in the end than it was in the beginning, because at the beginning you’re super excited, so the adrenaline beat my fear. But towards the end, towards thanksgiving, I was already waiting to come home, and it got bad. Thanksgiving and all of my family’s birthdays are what I missed. It was my grandpa’s birthday and it was around 4am in London and 8pm in LA and that was really hard for me. I also missed my little brother’s birthday which really hurt me.”
But no matter how hard it gets, studying abroad is definitely one of the most eye-opening, enriching, and rewarding experiences you could go through.
Even though this trip wasn’t easy at all, Camerina doesn’t regret one bit of it:
“I don’t take it back. I struggled a lot, towards the end especially. But studying abroad gives you that experience of traveling. I loved the different environment, speed of life, different foods. I learned compassion, responsibility, communication and most of all, vulnerability to the general culture and public of being in another country.”
It’s something every college student should take advantage of while they’re still in school.
If she hadn’t studied abroad, chances are she would’ve never gotten the chance to travel at all:
“I would’ve never been able to travel with my family. Even though my mom is a citizen, with everything that’s going on right now, she would never leave the country. And my dad works every day, so he can’t skip a day unless he hires someone to do his job, but he can’t afford to do that. My parents have only flown to Mexico once and that was like 21 years ago, and they’ve never gone again because of money. And now, they’re especially not going because they feel restricted.”
And if your parents think you’re being selfish or inconsiderate, remember that college is a time to discover, enrich and challenge yourself.
Before studying abroad, there were a lot of things that Camerina felt unsure about:
“I learned so much about who I was and who I wanted to be. Before going abroad I was very conflicted on what I wanted to do after I graduated, I thought I wanted to be a teacher my entire collegiate career and turns out my passion is elsewhere. It switched up my path but allowed me to realize that my future remained somewhere else.”
Ultimately, it was a huge learning experience that she will never forget.
“I learned to be healthier, far more independent and I found myself so much happier after being there for only 2 months, so my growth after 3.5 months was immense. I learned about the type of people I knew I wanted to surround myself with for the rest of my life.”
So no matter how many reasons you can think of as to why you can’t and shouldn’t study abroad…You can. And you should.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
“This was something that was very hard for me to do, but I did it. I think that if I did it, and I’m super family oriented, and my parents said no, and I was super financially restricted, then anyone can do it.” -Camerina
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