North Texas Daily

Realities outside our privilege ‘bubble’

Realities outside our privilege ‘bubble’

Austin Banzon

Realities outside our privilege ‘bubble’
January 30
20:23 2018

I saw a boy desperately eating out of the trash can. He must have been about 12 years old from what I could see from my grandmother’s car. I spotted him as we were waiting for the light to turn red. He was with an older woman, who I assume, was his mother.

The ironic part is, this did not surprise me — it just saddened me.

This is a common thing to see in Venezuela, my home.

Many third-world countries like Venezuela have corrupt governments, but nobody seems to know about it.

Because of media censorship by government entities, starvation and the devastating conditions of the people living there get buried in the news cycle.

As an international student at UNT, I noticed going home — especially when your home is in another country, regardless of that country’s situation — is very difficult.

When you go home, you have to change your mindset.

It may sound dramatic, but you kind of have to activate your survival mode.

The fact is, most Americans live in a bubble. Even I admit to have been living in a bubble since I moved here. It’s only natural.

If you think about Denton as a community, it is pretty safe and quiet.

I hear people complain about the crime rates going up, and I wonder why because I come from a place where people literally get killed for walking around with their phones on the streets.

I have an iPhone, and when in Venezuela, it is used only at home because owning one is considered a luxury.

When I went back home for the holidays, I realized I hadn’t truly appreciated so much of my life in Texas.

Living in places like the United States, we should never take anything for granted.

This is a place of opportunities — a place where you can do anything.

Grocery stores are filled with food from every brand. Laws are followed. You can get an ambulance at your doorstep in a blink of an eye.

This is a place where you can freely walk on campus and have your morning coffee without having to look behind your back with paranoia.

The moment when you realize you don’t think all these things are essential in your life is when you know you do not appreciate them. You probably have never experienced life without them.

I remember when I came back from Venezuela and went out to Fry Street.

I am not  saying “first-world problems” are not real problems because they very well can be. What I mean is after seeing people starve and police killing students during peaceful protests, people telling you they are upset because their phone died and they can’t post anything on Snapchat, something definitely clicks inside you.

Foreign students studying at UNT come from different backgrounds and for different reasons. But one way or another, they came to this country because they saw an opportunity for a better future here.

Coming from underdeveloped countries makes any of those students want to work harder and appreciate of the college experience more than many Americans.

If you fail a class, you can take it again.

If we fail classes, we could get sent back home. There is a lot more at stake.

It is so important to understand how cultural shock can influence every aspect of the life of a student. Missing home is hard, but knowing that you’re living with so much privilege and being aware that people back home have nothing at all, is a feeling that never goes away.

Featured Image: Illustration by Austin Banzon

About Author

Oriana Valderrama

Oriana Valderrama

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  1. Andreina
    Andreina February 01, 14:49

    Perfectly said. Excellent article to let others know that even the US isn’t perfect, we have it so good here. Well done Oriana Valderrama.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Katie Miller
    Katie Miller February 01, 15:11

    What a great perspective! So many youth do take what they have for granted and need to hear this student’s story. I had the opposite scenario and left America to study in a 3rd world country. It was a real eye opener!

    Reply to this comment
  3. Mrs S
    Mrs S February 01, 15:13

    Thank you so much for sharing your insight. For those of us born in the States, many of us never think of challeges others face… your first-hand experience shines a different light.

    Reply to this comment
  4. RF
    RF February 18, 21:34

    Thank you for your insight and for reminding us how fortunate we are to live in the US and to have the educational opportunities that are available to us here. Voices like yours are necessary in order for us to broaden our horizons!

    Reply to this comment

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