Qui suis-je ? Who am I?

My name is Laura and I'm a fourth year college student from San Diego majoring in French and minoring in European Studies. Now I'm no writer and I'm not the first American who will be studying abroad in Paris but I believe that I will provide a new point of view in an already familiar plot.

I was born in the U.S., raised in Mexico, and now I'm living and studying in San Diego. My passport may say I'm an American but my values, as well as my huge family, say otherwise. As a child growing up in a border town, you're exposed to two cultures and two languages from the get go. At first I had no problems with my identity, I would only say "American citizen" to the officer whenever I would cross the border but apart from that I was only Mexican- a Mexican that picked up English rather quickly thanks to watching American television and listening to music in English. My infancy in Tijuana was great but of course as many people know, Tijuana got very dangerous and still continues to be a little. Having a corrupt government and the drug cartels was just terrifying and I clearly remember praying to live in the United States because of all the movies I had seen depicting the "All-American" lifestyle. I wanted a house with a backyard, I wanted a dog, I wanted to ride a bike, and have classmates from every part of the world.

My wish came true when I was 10 when my family moved to San Diego but that meant not seeing my family for a year or so. Once I started living here and saw how much calmer life was, how I could just go walking across my neighborhood without fearing for my life, I started identifying myself more as an American and started developing anti-Mexican sentiments. I just didn't  know how to balance both of the cultures that made up my life, I felt like I had to choose one over the other when in reality it doesn't have to be that way. I think the following quote from the movie L'auberge espagnole perfectly sums up my current views about identities:

"...we're talking about identities and there's not one single valid identity, there are many varied, perfectly compatible identities. It's a question of respect. For example, I have at least two identities my Gambian identity, which I carry internally and my Catalan identity. I don't think its contradictory to combine the two identities."

Despite the fact that the movie deals with European identities, I feel like this statement is valid for any person who identifies him/herself with more than one identity. It took me a couple of years to mature and learn to respect my past, family, and values, as well as respect the country where I now reside and be able to say, I'm a Mexican-American and that's right about the time when French came into my life. It wasn't until freshmen year of high school when I got the opportunity to learn French and I didn't even thick twice about enrolling in French courses. The first four years were easy since being fluent in Spanish helped me a lot to develop my basic French vocabulary. Now in college, I've found myself taking classes in French history, culture, and literature and I feel like I fall in love with France time and time again. Now I know that I will never be French, but I had a immense amount of respect for French culture and I'm interested in learning more about their culture (as well as improve my French) during my study abroad experience.

This will conclude the lengthy introduction post but I will continue to write about myself and how I'm preparing myself to take the biggest step I've taken so far in my life. I hope you're as excited as I am to see Paris and how much I will grow during this upcoming school year.

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