4 Things I've Learned About Southerners As A Latino

4 Things I've Learned About Southerners As A Latino

A Latino's experience in the South.

Y'all won't believe how interesting it is as a Latino going to college in the "South."

Now, as a disclaimer, I go to college at Liberty University in Virginia. I have heard a few people claim that Virginia is technically not the South (it's more like the Middle), but from what I understand most of Virginia is still pretty much Southern. In addition, many of the students being from Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina (which are definitely Southern states).

As a Latino, I admit I had a pretty bad picture of what Southerners were like. I had a very stereotypical picture of what they were like, and it was pretty much this:

But in all seriousness, this assumption could not be farther from the truth.

So bear with me until the end, here are eight things I've learned about Southerners while going to college in the South:

1. "Southern hospitality" actually exists.

Southerners will legit hold the door open for you even if you're a dude! Southerners have been some of the friendliest people I've met. I never thought I'd be treated so well by a six foot white guy with a gun on his belt.

More than just holding the door, Southerners will welcome you into their home and treat you like a valued guest without even knowing you. They will offer you a ride and money even when it isn't convenient for them. These are just some of the examples my friends and I have experienced.

Seriously, the love and kindness I have received from these people has been amazing!

2. The term "y'all" is so convenient.

Southerners love their slangs. The funny things is that after so being here for a while I have adopted many of those slangs in my vocabulary (especially "y'all). Now, I'm a Latino who can speak English with a Southern twang!

3. They are actually open-minded.

A lot of my friends gave Southerners a bad reputation because they would label them as being super-Conservative and close-minded people.

In reality, that is VERY far from true. Those who I have met have been more open to ideas that differ from theirs than other people I know. By this, I don't mean they accept anything new they hear. It's just that most of them are open to simply talk about viewpoints and argue them in a friendly, civil way.

4. They like to learn about other cultures.

This one actually surprised me a lot. Coming to Virginia I never thought people would be so interested in my life back home. I felt welcomed. Sure, like with most people in the world stereotypes arise and it can get rather racist at times. Occasionally I even got some questions like, "How long was the drive from Puerto Rico?"

Looking back though, while some of the comments and questions were of a stereotypical nature, I was very surprised when I realized that they were saying these things not to be intentionally racist, but to actually find out if what they thought was true.

Most people in the don't do this nowadays. People will stick to their ideas about people and not even question or challenge it, but my Southern friends are always open to learn.

From the bottom of my heart I apologize to Southerners because I, a Latino minority who has been stereotyped a lot, had done the same to you guys.

But now I know. I've seen that while there many things that Southerners and I differ on in culture and ideas, we are just as human and just as crazy at heart.

Cover Image Credit: Carleen Long

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A Senior's Last Week Of High School

The bittersweet end.

Well, this is it. This is what we've worked so hard the last four years - who am I kidding - basically what seems like our whole lives for. This is the very last week we will set foot as a student in our high school's hallways. As most schools are getting ready to set their seniors free at last, it all begins to set in - the excitement, the anxiousness, and also the sentiment and nostalgia.

For seniors, the years since our first day as a freshman at the bottom of the high school totem pole have seemed endless, but as we look back on these last few weeks, we realize that this year in particular has gone by extraordinarily fast. It was just yesterday that we were sitting in our classrooms for the very first time, going to our 'last first' practice, and getting our first taste of the (very real) "senioritis". With all that's going on in our lives right now, from sports and clubs, finals, and the sought after graduation ceremony, it's hard to really sit down and think about how our lives are all about to become drastically different. For some it's moving out, and for some it's just the thought of not seeing your best friend on the way to fourth period English; either way, the feels are real. We are all in a tug of war with the emotions going on inside of us; everything is changing - we're ready, but we're not.

THE GOOD. Our lives are about to begin! There is a constant whirlwind of excitement. Senior awards, getting out of school early, parties, and of course Graduation. We are about to be thrust into a world of all new things and new people. Calling our own shots and having the freedom we have so desperately desired since the teenage years began is right around the corner. Maybe the best part is being able to use these new things surrounding you to grow and open your mind and even your heart to ideas you never could before. We get the chance to sink or swim, become our own person, and really begin to find ourselves.

Things we don't even know yet are in the works with new people we haven't even met yet. These friendships we find will be the ones to last us a lifetime. The adventures we experience will transform into the advice we tell our own children and will become the old tales we pass down to our grandkids when they come to visit on the weekends. We will probably hate the all night study sessions, the intensity of finals week, and the overpowering stress and panic of school in general, just like we did in high school... But it will all be worth it for the memories we make that will outlive the stress of that paper due in that class you absolutely hate. As we leave high school, remember what all the parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors are telling you - this are the best times of our lives!

THE BAD. The sentimental emotions are setting in. We're crying, siblings are tearing up, and parents are full-out bawling. On that first day, we never expected the school year to speed by the way it did. Suddenly everything is coming to an end. Our favorite teachers aren't going to be down the hall anymore, our best friends probably won't share a class with us, we won't be coming home to eat dinner with our families...

We all said we wanted to get out of this place, we couldn't wait, we were ready to be on our own; we all said we wouldn't be "so emotional" when the time came, but yet here we are, wishing we could play one more football game with our team or taking the time to make sure we remember the class we liked the most or the person that has made us laugh even when we were so stressed we could cry these past few years. Take the time to hug your parents these last few months. Memorize the facial expressions of your little sister or brother. Remember the sound of your dad coming home from work. These little things we take for granted every day will soon just be the things we tell our college roommate when they ask about where we're from. As much as we've wanted to get out of our house and our school, we never thought it would break our heart as much as it did. We are all beginning to realize that everything we have is about to be gone.

Growing up is scary, but it can also be fun. As we take the last few steps in the hallways of our school, take it all in. Remember, it's okay to be happy; it's okay to be totally excited. But also remember it's okay to be sad. It's okay to be sentimental. It's okay to be scared, too. It's okay to feel all these confusing emotions that we are feeling. The best thing about the bittersweet end to our high school years is that we are finally slowing down our busy lives enough to remember the happy memories.

Try not to get annoyed when your mom starts showing your baby pictures to everyone she sees, or when your dad starts getting aggravated when you talk about moving out and into your new dorm. They're coping with the same emotions we are. Walk through the halls remembering the classes you loved and the classes you hated. Think of the all great times that have happened in our high school years and the friends that have been made that will never be forgotten. We all say we hated school, but we really didn't. Everything is about to change; that's a happy thing, and a sad thing. We all just have to embrace it! We're ready, but we're not...

Cover Image Credit: Facebook

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