Laura Emilia Cruz-Jimenez is a Northwest Community College Initiative student studying tourism at Whatcom Community College in Bellingham. Studying in the United States has helped Laura appreciate her home country, Costa Rica even more. Here she writes about what it is like to live in the space between two cultures and the specific challenges and perfect moments that make her appreciate both.
Living in a foreign country evokes several emotions: happiness, nostalgia, and sadness and the feeling of being “in between”. I am between feeling like Bellingham is home, but at the same time preparing to return to my real home-Costa Rica. Certain times of year are especially emotional: Christmas and New Year missing my family, friends and neighbors. Between being scared to ride a plane for the first time of my life, but then exploring really famous places such as Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Los Angeles, Seattle, and San Francisco. Between feeling lots of tears on my cheeks during one of the most difficult situations in my life while at the hospital, missing family, but at the same time this began a wonderful relationship with my friendship mother.
Between sometimes feeling you are alone with millions of people around you and sharing with friends from all over world, especially with the 14 students from nine countries (Egypt, Brazil, Ghana, Pakistan, Indonesia, South Africa, Kenya, India and my country Costa Rica). We are enjoying each other in spite of our differences around eating, religious beliefs, and ideologies.
I thank God for this opportunity in which I am learning from them, and they are learning from me through our daily sharing. Between feeling stresses every day in each quarter and between the wonderful news that I was a honor student in the fall, even while studying in a second language. Between a cold never imagined, feeling pain in your bones and muscles aching and enjoying playing with snow for the first time in my life, and appreciating it like a child, and watching more than 30 eagles. I am almost at home, between sharing with people here who give me unconditional love, and between wanting to eat tamales and tortillas made by my mommy, aunt, and grandmother.
Through this experience I learned to value myself even more, appreciate more my family, friends, neighbors, customs, traditions, and every village of my country. I give a million thanks to God who blessed me with every experience, good or bad in my life. The bad experiences made me grow up and the good ones have given me lots of happiness. Thank you for my Costa Rican family and thank you for my Bellingham family. Thank you God because I am between homes: almost at home here in Bellingham, and almost at home in Costa Rica.