The day my family found out I would leave Texas to continue my studies was the day I felt that I let them down. I felt that they expected me to stay in Houston, live at home, work, and go to school while still doing home chores and all that. I will never forget my mom screaming at me and trying everything to get me to stay. Once all the anger and sadness passed, they began to understand that I had to leave. That it was time to let me go to another state, where I knew no one, and support me from miles away.
Once being in college I suffered so much. It hurt seeing everyone's parents moving them in and taking pictures. In that moment, I missed my family and all those hugs I took for granted. I learned to manage my own money by trying to find the cheapest books, shopping at Goodwill and yet trying to hold back on all those Chipotle runs my friends wanted to go to. I am grateful for the many times my friends took me into their homes when I had no money to fly back home for certain breaks.
For some good time in college I felt depressed. I missed my family, the food, the people back home, and most importantly I felt like I didn't belong. My mom couldn't understand what I was doing in college; "why do you have to go so far away if there are colleges here in Houston?" The hardest thing was trying to explain depression, and that I too could suffer from it.
I got the hold of things socially, but adapting to the academics was another challenge. I didn't know how to ask help because I was taught to do things on my own most of the time. I felt embarrassed if I came out and said I was having difficulty in a class because I was so used to knowing the answers to problems in high school. My freshman year became the year that I truly realized that I wasn't as ready to be by myself as I originally thought.
Looking back now, I see all that I overcame. I became fearless and remembered that my mom migrated to the United States for a better life. I am living this better life and I am strong. It doesn't matter the place I go to college, but what matters is what I get out of it. Sophomore year was not easy and I know there are people out there struggling too.
First-generation college students struggle socially, and some struggle academically, but we never forget where we came from, where our parents came from, and what our parents had to do for us to get here.
-- Nancy Garzon