“We migrate, we travel, we adapt.”
Mariana Stern, 52
Immigrated from Buenos Aires, Argentina
“I find that my values and attitudes are no longer the same as those of my fellow Argentineans. In many ways, I have assimilated and think and act like a US person. So, I often feel I no longer belong back home, and neither here, as if I were in limbo.”
Mariana’s uncle, who had immigrated to the US when she was three, invited her to spend the summer in Texas with him so she could have the chance to practice her English. So, at age fifteen she flew alone to Texas to stay with him and take English classes. When she got there, she had trouble understanding people because of their accents and other Hispanic people she saw would not speak Spanish to her. “My Spanish sounds a little different than Mexican Spanish, and I look a bit different than many Hispanic immigrants in Texas, so I think they did not think of me as one of their “own”.” She was not very excited to be taking English classes because she had studied the language since she was six. Her uncle was friends with a professor who taught at the local college. She convinced her uncle to let her take three courses there. She took two English classes and an anthropology class. She enjoyed the college environment and learning independently and decided that she wanted to return to the US to become a scientist.
She finished college in Argentina and then returned to the US to get a PhD in cancer biology. She went to study at a cancer center in Texas. She soon became lonely and missed her family back in Argentina. This made her question her decision to come to the US. She often asked herself, “Should I have stayed? Would I be able to get what I wanted?” She had planned to earn her PhD and then return to Argentina, but she started settling in and making friends. After she earned her PhD in cancer biology and it was time for her to return to Argentina like she had planned, she had to make a difficult decision. Would she return to Argentina or continue to live in the US? She decided to stay and took a job in Los Angeles. When Mariana arrived in LA, she knew she had found her home. “Los Angeles felt like home from the first minute I landed. The diversity, the large sprawl of the city, it all reminded me of my native Buenos Aires. Unlike Texas, Hispanics in LA actually talk Spanish to me! I had found my home.”