I missed the obnoxious, loud Spanish chatter. I missed my flautas de papa. Really I just missed the comfortableness of home. It was the start of my freshman year here at UC Davis, and I had become so home sick and culture deprived I was getting desperate. If I met someone who spoke Spanish or even took it in high school, I clung on to them for dear life.
I’ve never been one to shy away from new friends, so this wasn’t anything new, but I did find my mom away from home this way. It was the third week of school, and I was in the Segundo Dinning Commons (DC) on campus. I heard someone talking in Spanish in front of the salad bar. My intentions for making a sandwich quickly faded, and the salad bar became more appealing.
I started to creepily stalk them around the DC while “getting food.” They were two employees having such an animated conversation I couldn’t help myself. So I joined in on the party. The two women were so friendly and familiar to me I felt at home again! The older of the two, Hilda, started calling me mija, a term of endearment, and I almost cried. I was sold! She was going to be my new best friend.
My friends from the dorms made fun of me because by the end of the month I pretty much befriended half the staff there. You know when you walk in somewhere and you know everyone and feel like Beyonce because you feel so popular? That was me at the DC. My little family there made me feel special, and I was keeping my Spanish fresh.
One day I was feeling especially home sick and went to vent to my DC mom about it. That same day for dinner, one of the cooks made me arroz con leche, a traditional Mexican plate just for me. I was so touched and thankful that I called my real mom on the spot!
This didn’t just cheer me up, but it opened my eyes. I was so blessed. I had amazing friends from the dorms, an amazing opportunity at Davis and this little community I had created. It dawned on me that you have to create your own happiness. In the words of Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother “When I get sad, I stop being sad, and be AWESOME instead. True story.”
Coming to Davis as a minority can be a little daunting. You feel like you have to assimilate and that sometimes inadvertently makes you lose pieces of your culture. Spanish is a rarity and good Mexican food even more so, but they aren’t impossible to find. Just like finding the place that makes you feel at home. Whether it’s finding it at the DC, joining a club, or even cooking a traditional plate while jamming to some cumbia, it’s out there.
UC Davis provides tons of resources you can use! Check them out.
- “The Brown Pages” Ha! Clever one guys. http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/29f063a2#/29f063a2/10
- “Resources for Latina/o and Chicana/o Students” http://admissions.ucdavis.edu/latinoresources/index.cfm
- Some even specific to majors! “Chicano and Latino Engineers and Scientist Socaety (CAALESS)”http://caless.engineering.ucdavis.edu/
- There is even a Chicano/ Latino Graduation Celebration! http://chi.ucdavis.edu/annual-events/chicanolatino-graduation-celebration?destination=node/23
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