As the well-known song ''Visa Para un Sueño'' by the Dominican singer Juan Luis Guerra says, one of the greatest wishes of the Latin American population is to be able to continue their future in a country with better opportunities. We cannot deny that Latin America has incredible countries full of culture and experiences to live, however there are still many countries in Latin America that do not have the same opportunities for education and employment as in the United States and Europe.
My name is Alma Lozano, I am from Lima, Peru and I am currently studying Integrated Media at the University of Mount Union in Alliance, Ohio. The decision to migrate is difficult. It is not as many imagine it to be, as my friends would say, ''like living in an American movie.” Leaving your country is a complicated situation and facing another culture and language is even more difficult.
Adapting to life in the United States
The first months here were nice and peaceful because I was in the first stage of cultural shock, the honeymoon, when everything is new and perfect in your mind. However, when I entered the next stage, which is the stage of frustration, I realized how much I missed my country and my family, although all the people here are very friendly it is frustrating to not be able to communicate in your language and feel like an outsider all the time.
Also, the food and the rhythm of life in the United States are very different. Latin America is more a collectivist culture where everything is done as a team, especially with your family or community, but here in the United States everything is more individualistic and that was one of the things more shocking for me. But after that stage I learned how to adapt to the new culture, and although it’s still difficult I think moving to the United States for my education is the best decision I've ever made.
A land of opportunity
The technology and job opportunities found in Peru are nothing close to what I have found here. When I was studying in Peru, I chose an unusual major for my country, "Film Studies", and when I was about to finish and look for jobs, I realized that my country doesn’t have many opportunities for film majors, and that was one of the decisions that encouraged me to look for options abroad.
One of the things that I like most about studying here is that everyone has the same opportunities regardless of their major, the experience, the university, the state, or social class - something that normally makes a difference to be able to find job opportunities in Peru.
Overcoming fear and misinformation
From my experience as a student in Peru I know that many students do not feel satisfied with the education provided in the country and always look for ways to find new opportunities in other countries. However, there are two things that stop this opportunity, fear and misinformation. I know both very closely, because I experienced it before making the big decision to come to America.
Fear is something that will never go away, so you must learn to live with it, you just must not let it limit your opportunities. However, misinformation is something that you must face, many people in Peru and Latin America do not investigate education in other countries because we have the idea that it is an extremely complicated process and you must be the top students in all aspects to achieve it, which is not true.
In my case, I always wanted to study in the United States, but I had never been the number one student in high school, and I thought it was impossible to even apply to a university here. Also, the cost of tuition and living scared me since the currency in Latin America is devaluated, however I discovered that there are many scholarships and grants available for international students, all you have to do is investigate each university that you are interested in and contact an international agent of the university who can guide you.
A journey worth taking
There are many universities in the United States and Canada that welcome thousands of international students every year and have an uncomplicated process. The opportunity is there, it always has been, you just need to find it or look for experts who can help guide you. Something that many students do not know is that not only in Peru, but throughout Latin America there are different agencies that are dedicated to helping students find universities abroad, they help you with the documents that you must present, and there are some that even help you with the preparation of the exams that you must take.
Studying abroad not only gives you better opportunities for a successful future, but it also helps you discover yourself. Living alone in an unknown country is something that can cause a lot of anxiety but at the same time it is an opportunity to find your way in the world, learning about new cultures, and exploiting your full potential. It’s a journey worth taking.
Alma Lozano is an international student from Peru majoring in Integrated Media at the University of Mount Union in Ohio. Alma joined ECE as an intern in our marketing department for the spring and fall semesters in 2022. She aspires to work in the marketing/communications field when she graduates and eventually become a creative director in a marketing/communications agency.