What It Feels Like To Be A Foreigner In My Own Country

What It Feels Like To Be A Foreigner In My Own Country

I finally returned to the Dominican Republic.

The last time I lived in the Dominican Republic for an extended period of time I was ten years old.

Now as a 21-year-old woman, I am spending my summer on the island doing a three-month long internship. My experience so far has not been that of a common vacationer. I have immersed myself in my country and its culture and I could not be happier.

When I say I have immersed myself in my country and its culture, I mean that having lived in the United States for the past 11 years I have lost touch with some of my roots. I have forgotten what it means to live a day to day life in the Dominican Republic and have taken for granted a lot of the things given to me.

My people and my family live a simple life. A life filled with richness made out of happiness. This may seem a bit fictional and unbelievable but what I mean by this is that I have never encountered a group of people who are as happy as my fellow Dominicans. A lot of people view Dominicans as drinkers and partiers but the world needs to realize that we are more than that.

This past June I was a foreigner in my own country. I did not know how to take public transportation or how to even ask for directions without making a fool of myself. After realizing that I needed to take a step back and relearn some of my own customs I can now proudly say that I feel more in touch with my culture than ever before.

I have learned what it means to live in the campo (country side) and enjoy the blissfulness of being awaken by the call of a rooster. I have gotten the chance to experience public transportation and have learned that more than 5 people can definitely fit in one car. I have learned that my people are revolutionary and that we are hungry for change. I have learned to feel proud and most importantly grateful to be Dominican. #Dominican @depurasepa

Cover Image Credit: Charnelys Martinez

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.

Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.

7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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Visiting Kauai, HI Was A Life-Changing Experience

How my experiences in Kauai, Hawaii changed me as a person.


What I Learned From Kauai

I remember a year ago, today, all I wanted to do was visit Hawaii. I would look at my phone and see influencers living their best lives in nature, eating acai bowls, being engulfed by the ocean, and running through the mountains… every day. I was a senior in high school, and every day, I was going to school and doing homework. My life didn't feel fulfilling or exciting. People's lives in Hawaii seemed to have more color in it — more life in it.

So, when I found out that my family was going to Hawaii, I was exhilarated. This was my chance to discover what it was like to live life on the other side: the side of life with color and excitement. I had this vision of Hawaii. To me, it was a utopia, where everyone felt an incredible amount of happiness and freedom, untethered by the boring obligations that can come with this life.

My experiences in Hawaii changed my perception of it.

The first expectation I had of Hawaii that fell away was my belief that it was a sanctuary of nature free from the bustling rush of civilization. When I visited Kauai, the first things I noticed were the roads and crowds. There were so many tourists and cars on the island. The traffic was almost unbearable, and even though there were lush trees that surrounded me, there were lines of beeping cars in front of mine and behind me. It was as if people from civilization were trying to get a taste of Mother Earth, and had brought the civilization with them. It reminded me of a lot of highways back at home (the highways that I was trying to take a break from).

And then, all of a sudden, I understood. I was so busy focusing on the negative, that I was forgetting to see the light. Even though I was stuck in traffic, there were still lush trees around me. I was still immersed in nature, and even though I heard the sound of beeping with my car window down, I also heard the sounds of birds chirping and felt the rush of wind on my face. I was so busy trying to see the negative in this beautiful experience, that I almost missed out on the light present.

Another expectation that I let go of was that everyone who lived on this island was happier than everyone else who wasn't living on an island. As I talked to locals, I learned that their life was anything but perfect. Their home was constantly being visited by people who would come and leave. Their home's nature was being torn down and slowing transformed into a tourist attraction. It was getting more and more expensive every day to live in Kauai.

This observation reminded me that no one has perfection in life. I thought that everyone who lived in Hawaii had such rich, beautiful, and perfect lives, yet they also had problems they had to face. I learned that being a human being means that there will be some aspects of life that aren't perfect, and that is OK. Because life can still be beautiful besides this.

Besides some of my unmet expectations of Hawaii, there were some beautiful experiences that exceeded my expectations. I spent a lot of time in nature, exploring the wilderness around me and feeling shivers of freedom within me. I swam towards a waterfall, kayaked in a river, ran through the ocean's waves, ate delicious food, and spent time with my family. All these beautiful experiences made me realize that I can enjoy life and make it more colorful by doing more things that bring me joy, even if I may not have access to a waterfall within 100 miles of me. Life is more than just going to school and doing homework.

So, when I returned home from Hawaii, I brought a piece of Hawaii with me: the energy I felt there. I learned that I didn't necessarily need to live on an island to feel free and happy on the inside. Those are qualities I can cultivate within me.

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