The Fourth of July belongs to the list of acquired holidays I incorporated into my life since I moved to the United States. You see, I was born in Caracas, Venezuela, and I moved to Miami when I was 18. Like any immigrant or international student who moves to another country, especially one with a different language, a culture shock was expected. Luckily, and because I internalized and accepted the fact that I don’t live in my home country anymore, both cultures somehow made peace and eventually converged (ish).
I’m Latina forever, but a little American party won’t hurt.
Living two different worlds…
Since I got here, I learned to draw a line between two different worlds: the one I left behind in Venezuela and the one I didn’t understand much in Miami. Overtime I absorbed it, and now, I enjoy some American holidays like Thanksgiving (because of the long break from school), St. Patrick’s Day (because people at my university go really crazy), Labor Day (because, again, we skip school) and the Fourth of July (because, why not?). And don’t get me started on the holiday sales (by the way, I had such a great shopping trip yesterday with the Fourth of July sales).
Celebrating the Fourth of July is something new for me. In Venezuela, Independence Day is the fifth of July, but we don’t do much. We just don’t go to school and usually spend the day resting or hanging out with friends. But here, it’s an entirely different story. Anyone 21 and older travels to another city, goes out, drinks like there’s no tomorrow, parties three days in a row and just goes crazy. If you stay with your family, you also drink like crazy, eat barbecue (how yummy), launch fireworks at night and spend quality time with your loved ones.
It’s a love-hate relationship
I like this day (aside from the sales, of course) because it allows me to disconnect from the world for a couple of days, although I know very well that I will come back feeling like s–t and with no strength or energy whatsoever, while a long to-do list awaits me after my little weekend getaway.
If I’m honest, I really don’t care much about this holiday. Like please, why the red-white-blue outfits anyway? I guess I have to embrace it like I embrace this country for accepting me and letting me go to college here when I knew I couldn’t in Venezuela. However, this country comes with many downfalls that it makes me question whether I want to celebrate its Independence Day. From all the obstacles that an international student must go through to stay in the country to how the system works in the United States.
Appreciating even the little things
I didn’t choose to move here. I forced myself to. I didn’t want to leave Caracas and intended to continue my journalistic career there, but I knew I couldn’t. Here, as an international student, I can’t even have a job, doing an internship is quite a tedious process and I can’t leave the country until at least a year after graduation, only if I find a job and get sponsored with a visa that could allow me to stay in the United States (which no one guarantees can happen). Besides, I don’t even want to know my fate as an international woman in a country where women’s rights don’t matter, abortion is illegal, shootings are as common as car accidents and politics (and just about anything else) works backward.
Once again, I celebrate this country because it welcomed me with open arms, gave me the necessary tools and knowledge to jumpstart my career as a journalist, and because, despite all its negative counterparts, it gave me the freedom and independence that I never had in Venezuela. So, Happy Fourth to you all!