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

In light of Hispanic/Latinx heritage month (September 15-October 15), I have been reflecting a lot on the relationship I have with my Latinx identity and the ways in which it has changed since moving to college. Being familiar with the notion that one often learns to appreciate something more when it’s gone, I had already anticipated that I would miss my family when I first moved to Davis back in 2020. What I hadn’t known then was that I would also gain a greater appreciation for my culture and a newfound desire to reconnect with it for the same reason.

Growing up I never truly felt the need to stay in touch with my culture, likely because I was already connected to it without even realizing it. At the time, things like speaking Spanish at home, eating the Peruvian dishes my mom would make once in a blue moon, and having Latinx TV channels on as background noise in the living room weren’t aspects of my life I consciously considered to be cultural, but as mere parts of my daily life. It wasn’t until I moved away to college, where I only speak Spanish during periodic phone calls with my parents and have little to no contact with anyone or anything Peruvian that I began to understand the ways in which different behaviors and day-to-day activities (no matter how insignificant they may have seemed at the time) allowed me to feel closer to my Latinx/Peruvian identity.

It can be difficult to tell whether my interest in reconnecting with my culture and becoming more in touch with my Latinx identity comes from a place of curiosity or nostalgia. In many cases, one’s culture is strongly connected to their family, which may be associated with feelings of comfort and warmth. With college being the first time in my life I have truly felt as if I am “on my own,” it would make sense for me to long for a sense of familiarity. At the same time, taking college courses that have prompted me to think more about my identity and life abroad has made me exceptionally more curious to learn about Latin America beyond the knowledge I have gained through firsthand experience. 

While I may be unsure of the “why” behind my desire for cultural reconnection I do know one thing for sure — it’ll take a conscious effort on my end. Whether it be becoming involved in Latinx organizations, watching a TV show in Spanish now and then, trying out a Peruvian recipe on my own for the first time, or even just calling my parents more often, there are various ways I can find connection with my heritage and expand my knowledge on it.

Something anyone who is looking to reconnect or stay in touch with their culture should keep in mind is that there are no criteria to be met. Every person has a distinct life experience and relationship with their cultural identity that is unique to them. There is no right way for me to be Hispanic/Latinx, and getting closer to my culture should be done in a way that feels most fulfilling for me.

Ariana Araujo is third year at UC Davis double-majoring in International Relations and Communications. In her free time she enjoys reading, making ultra-specific Spotify playlists, and trying new foods from all over the world. Trader Joes is one of her happy places.