Five Things I Learned After Moving to the USA at 12

It is Hispanic Heritage Month!

How cool is it to have a whole month to celebrate our different backgrounds? In honor of this special month, I wanted to share a few things I have learned as an immigrant. My experiences over the years have shaped me into the woman I am today, and without my Brazilian roots I would not be the same.

Family, especially your parents, are everything.

When you decide to pack up and move your whole life to a different country, your immediate family becomes your rock more than ever before. You are all in a whole new environment, and if you do not have any connections beforehand, you feel alone. No one understands this better than your family. It is the perfect time to really connect and lean on each other to grow. After moving, I truly realized that everything my parents do is for my sister and me. Parents have a never-ending desire to make sure we are taken care of, and I really learned to appreciate this after our move.

Photo courtesy of Leticia Ribeiro

Have patience… then a little more patience.

If there is one thing I have come to trust after moving, it is that learning to be patient will be your best tool in getting over the shock of a new environment. Patience to learn the language, patience to make friends, patience to accept that the rest of your family is thousands of miles away, and patience to understand that the “American Dream” takes time. Being patient is not as easy as it sounds. When things feel like they are never going to get better, you have to hold on to the hope that everything is going to be ok, because guess what? It will!

Learning a second language is difficult, but worth it.

I cannot even tell you how happy I am that I am bilingual. Not only, does it help professionally and academically, but I can also talk about people without them understanding me! In all seriousness, it is amazing how helpful knowing a second language is. It has allowed me to help and connect to others and I have been able to help those who do not speak English or Portuguese. In our competitive society, being bilingual will help differentiate me to employers, and it gives me the opportunity to apply for jobs that allow me to potentially travel to new places.

Photo courtesy of Pinterest

Never forget where you come from.

Once you have adjusted and become “Americanized” it is easy for your roots to slowly fade away. It is sad, but true. My parents have tried their best to keep our culture alive and I am so thankful. It is easy to detach yourself from the life you had before, so it is extremely important to stay in touch with family and always value your background. I cherish that part of me. I see it as a reminder of all the hard work my family and I have put in to this new life. I also see it as a bridge between two worlds that I am now lucky to be a part of.

Photo courtesy of Leticia Ribeiro

Work hard for what you want.

This is not a new concept for most of us. Everyone is constantly telling us to work hard, to stay focused, and to stay hungry for success. I felt this on a whole other level after moving to a new country. Because of factors like learning a new language, adjusting to the new culture, and settling in a new environment, it is easy to feel discouraged to work hard. When you feel like all odds are against you, it is the perfect chance to prove yourself. I have seen my parents working hard since I was a little girl, which has been a huge motivator for me. As I got older, I understood how much the move meant to them. I want to take advantage of the opportunities moving to America has given us, and I will continue to strive for a better future, just like my parents did.

Photo courtesy of Pinterest