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This has been a dream come true to me. I had always dreamed of traveling to another country to study, but it felt like a far reaching goal of mine. Being in a new country taught me so much about myself. I have always described myself as a shy and reserved person, but I felt like I truly stepped out of my comfort zone in London. I learned how to become more independent and not to be afraid to try new things no matter how scary they might sound. I found myself being more friendly and outgoing. Because of this, I was able to meet so many people from different parts of the world due to the fact that London is so diverse. Meeting new people was one of my highlights of my study abroad experience because I was able to learn about different cultures through their stories and traditions.
A big part of my identity is being a Latina, so going to a different country where my culture and traditions are not as common was a bit scary for me. I was extremely surprised to discover that there is a big Latin American population in London. Because of this, I felt like my Latinx Abroad experience was truly amazing. I was able to immerse myself to the Latin American community in London through meeting people and attending cultural events. I felt like I have grown so much as a person through my Latinx Abroad experience, because back at home in Chicago I usually stick to my own Mexican roots although Chicago is a diverse city like London. In London I was able to explore more of my Latinx identity by immersing myself to different cultures from different Latin American countries such as Colombia, Venezuela, and Brazil. I stepped out of my comfort zone and for the first time tried food from these countries. I attended a Venezuelan event where I learned about their traditional music and dance. I also had the opportunity to accompany one of my friends to play with a Mariachi band at a school cultural event. These experiences were the highlights of my trip due to the fact that I met so many interesting people along the way. Through these experiences, I felt more at home and comfortable because the Latin American community in London was so welcoming and friendly.
I was also able to explore more of my Latinx identity abroad through an organization that I was introduced to from one of my class excursions. The Latin American House is an organization that provides legal, family, language, job, and other services to immigrants in London. For one of my class projects I had to do a research paper on Latin American immigration in London. This project was really important to me because it is a topic that I am very passionate about as a Latina of immigrant parents. I was able to interview and converse with many workers and immigrants from the organization about their lives in London as immigrants. This experience was eye opening to me and encouraged me to possibly work in a field that involves helping immigrants. I am glad that the Latin American community in London was so welcoming because I was truly able to immerse in their cultures through the people, events, and organization, which had a positive influence on my Latinx identity abroad.