Embracing culture shock

Alhambra High's commencement is on Thursday. Among the graduates will be Victoria Gavia, a member of the Alhambra Source Youth Feed, who will be going to college at University of Puget Sound in Washington.

I am an L.A. girl — born in East Los Angeles and raised under Alhambra's cotton-ball cloud skies and rays of sunshine. The only snow I’ve ever been remotely close to came in a paper cone, doused in watermelon-flavored corn syrup. I’ve only left So-Cal twice (Mexico and Nevada), so I can only imagine what the world is like outside. I even find there's a certain beauty to the pollution-induced orange, pink and purple sunsets that color our skies.

Come August, though, I’ll be crossing these borders. I will be on a train, traveling for 32 hours and over 1,000 miles to the state of Washington, which I’ll call home for the next four years. So I have given thought to that concept we learn about in World History: culture shock. Although my family graciously informed me of the abundance of (ahem!) white people and rain in the Pacific Northwest, I look forward to the challenges ahead.

I don’t expect to immediately fit into Washingtonian society. Am I worried about my brown skin standing out against the freshly fallen snow? Perhaps. But if growing up in Alhambra has taught me one thing, it's that people have different backgrounds everywhere you go. I've learned how to interact with all types. What's more, it's these cultural differences that inspire me to leave California. Ever since seeing my mom's collection of photos from her solo adventure to Yucatán, Mexico as a 20-year-old college student, I've been inspired to experience the world. 

Yes, I will probably have to shed my floral summer dresses and slip on a pair of insulating socks and rain boots, but they will probably be the warmest socks I own. And of course, I hope the world I'm going to has just as many varieties of Boba.

4 thoughts on “Embracing culture shock”

  1. Jose A. Sanchez

    I’m proud of you kiddo! I wish you the best of luck in your studies.

    1. Thanks Mr. Sanchez,

      I really appreciate everything you did to help me! I’ll send you a postcard 🙂

  2. Congratulations, Victoria! My son also left Alhambra for the Pacific Northwest (is his case, Salem, Oregon.) Although we are “anglo,” he had a period of adjustment as well – but he’s really enjoying the experience. He wants to return to Southern California after graduation, however! Be aware that the train can have unexpected delays, so it may take longer than thirty-two hours…

    1. Hi Daniel!

      Thank you very much for the comment.
      I’m glad to hear your son is enjoying himself. Thanks for the train tip, I’ll make sure to plan accordingly 🙂

      –Victoria

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