As you may or may not know, I'm not actually from San Juan. I moved here last year for college, but my home city is Ponce, in the southern part of the island. Let me tell you, Puerto Rico may be a small island, but the culture shock I experienced in my own country was quite huge.
I've lived in Ponce since I was born, and both of my parents are there. Most people in the other parts of the island dislike ponceños because we are very proud of our city. I had previously disliked people from the metropolitan area because I always felt that they thought they were superior and were very snobby. This perspective changed the year I moved here (I just realized how small-minded I sound, generalizing people this way. Then again, I had only had negative experiences with people from San Juan until the moment.)
The decision to study at the University of Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras was one that was made ages ago - since middle school I had decided that it was the place I wanted to study. I always expected college to be a rough transition; surprisingly, the change from high school to college wasn't the rough thing. The change from Ponce to San Juan was definitely one of the most challenging things I have faced! The first few weeks I moved here, I was absolutely flummoxed.
Life was more hostile, the driving was terrible, the traffic was awful and the loneliness was overwhelming. My family and boyfriend were in Ponce, my friends were abroad, and I was one out of the two brave souls out of 70 other students of my graduating class to attend this University. My mom was really proud of me for having been accepted here - I didn't want to let her down by wanting to come back home!
I decided to face the facts: I'm not a kid anymore. My life is changing fast, and I'm supposed to be building my future, here and now. Life was not always going to be comfortable.
I sucked it up as much as I could, and tried to fit in. Then I realized this isn't high school, people don't pay as much attention to you (what a relief!). I learned how to cook properly, became more organized and let go of some of my shyness. I was really out of my element, but like they say...