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Pat Neff Hall at Baylor University at sunset with a tree peeking in on the left
Pat Neff Hall at Baylor University at sunset with a tree peeking in on the left
Original photo by Rachel Harsley

Home Away from Home: How Latin American Students Really Feel About Baylor

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Baylor chapter.

As an international student myself, I have experienced an impactful transition moving all the way from Panama to Texas. Not only because it’s a different country with a different language, but also because it was the first time in my life where I was far away from my parents for a long period of time. Luckily, I found a second home at Baylor, however, I wanted to hear what other Latin American students felt about Baylor and see how I related to them.

Christa Angulo, a junior from Guatemala, said, “Even though we are a minority here at Baylor, I feel that everyone is very inclusive and that people often want to know about your background or where you come from.”

She also added that she has never felt uncomfortable on Baylor campus and that everyone has been very welcoming, even those that are not so familiar with the Latin American culture. Thus, Christa mentioned that she didn’t really experience a cultural shock moving to Texas. She mentioned that since she was little, she traveled to the United States very often, making it a familiar place. In addition, she has a twin sister that came to Baylor alongside her, which she said was a point of comfort when she was going through the transition process.

Personally, I related to this a whole lot. One time I was in class, and someone asked me where I was from. I answered “Panama” and he responded that he doesn’t know where that is. However, he never was disrespectful and actually asked me what it was like and why I decided to come to Baylor. Moreover, I found it interesting what Christa said regarding the cultural shock. I say this because I lived in Spain around half a year before coming to Baylor, where I experienced a lot of anxiety, depression and it was overall a very hard transition for me. It is curious because a lot of my family members lived in Spain and they speak my native language however, I had never felt more detached from myself and where I come from. Here at Baylor, even though I came by myself without knowing anyone and everyone speaks my second language, I feel very safe and connected to my roots.

Paulina Gomez-Ibarra, a sophomore from Honduras, said, “Baylor has shaped me into a being better person and it has made me go out of my comfort zone to meet new people and have different experiences than I thought I would.” In relation to this, she mentioned that she loves that Baylor is very value-oriented, considering it leads to her surroundings being full of good and genuine people.

“Being from Honduras I was used to living in a bubble where I always had the same perspective of life; everyone is very used to partying all the time,” she mentioned. She added that Baylor has helped her outgrow that mindset and has helped her find more value in building relationships, connections, and having fun in other ways such as “going to a coffee shop or chilling on a picnic” with her friends.

I wanted to highlight something she said that truly sparked a light inside of me: “I love how Baylor has received me. I’ve never felt that being an international student has stopped me from being who I am. I feel like I’m valued, and I feel like I’m someone due to Baylor’s amazing community.” As I was interviewing Paulina, I could relate to her words a lot.

I wanted to highlight an insightful conversation I had with a Latin American student that transferred from Baylor and preferred to remain anonymous. “The reason why I transferred from Baylor is that it didn’t have a lot of Latin students that shared my culture and day-to-day life,” he said. He also said that he felt very detached from the routine and experiences he had back home and that even though no one was disrespectful to him, he just wasn’t comfortable at Baylor. I considered this interview to be highly important, considering one can appreciate a completely different point of view to the ones that I had mentioned previously. It is important to be aware and recognize that everyone has different experiences and that people are looking for different things, and what’s truly most important is to find a place where you feel comfortable to be yourself and express where you come from.

Lastly, I interviewed Sofia Orellana, a sophomore from Guatemala. “It is often hard to see how my culture is not represented here, but there are some organizations that do try to represent it and that is very valuable,” Sofia said. However, she adds that being a small amount of Latin American students also has its perks: “it makes us closer.”

All of these interviews were very insightful, valid, and interesting. Personally, I feel that Baylor does a great job at trying to represent Hispanic culture, and I also feel that as a student one has a part to make and be open to meeting different types of people. However, it is not easy moving away from home, even more if you are going to another country that is totally different from the one you grew up in. But I want to end with something that Sofia Orellana mentioned to me when our interview was ending: “Baylor is not for everyone, but the people that do enjoy it genuinely love it for what it is,” and I feel that statement truly captures the essence of being an international student at Baylor.

Hey there! I am Anabella and I am a psychology major with minors in apparel merchandising and entrepreneurship at Baylor University. I am really passionate about sports, fashion, the human mind, and my Spotify playlist. I really love to create meaningful connections with people and live by kindness!