University In America
For those of us growing up abroad, going to a university in America is a dream come true. Although there are many international students in some of the best universities in America, they actually represent a tiny portion of the number who want to get in. Between heightened security since September 11th, the high standards that American universities have for international students, and the extremely high price of going to an overseas university, many people never get to fulfill their dreams. For me, it was an awful struggle.
When I was growing up in Mexico, my father could not stop talking about universities in America. He had worked hard all his life, and through his diligent labor, had made a decent living for himself and his family. The money he had made, however, was nothing compared to the amount you can make if you had a degree from a university in America. An American college degree was like the holy Grail for him. He wanted each of his children to have the opportunities that he never had. Working as a laborer in Mexico all of your life only makes you a fraction of the money that a doctor or lawyer makes in a year or two. Going to a university in America was never a decision we made. It was an expectation we grew up with.
The problem was that times were tough and money was tougher. The immigration situation in America is kind of a catch 22. If you have the right professional qualifications, it is easy for you to get a visa to go to America, but in order to get those qualifications, you need to go to a university in America in the first place. It took us years to get permission to attend an American college. When I finally got my admissions letter from a technical university in America, I had already set up a life for myself working in my dad's business. I had to leave it all behind for the next four years.
In the end, however, it was worth it. I was not going to the best university in America, but I was still going to a place that would give me a better education than I could get anywhere in Mexico. Most of the kids going to American universities don't realize how lucky they are. They take it for granted. For me, however, getting in and getting through took everything I had. Seeing my dads face when I graduated, however, made it all worth it.