Yo soy Boricua!

These three simple words resonate in the hearts of Boricuas (Puerto Ricans) all across the globe. See, for us, being from the Island of Enchantment is not just a privilege, it is something we are proud of!

Sure, the economy is bad, but where isn't it bad?

Puerto Rico means more than a political or geographical region. For us, Puerto Rico is the people, the food, and the culture.

We have a saying that translates, "I am Puerto Rican, even if I was born in the moon" and it couldn't be truer because as previously stated, Puerto Rico means more than just a place.

As a fellow Boricua taking my Bachelor's degree in Biomedical Sciences in the United States, it is definitely a struggle to live somewhere so different from home. (Especially if you are in a cold state!)

But more than just wanting to get away from the cold and living near the beaches again, I want to go back because of what Puerto Rico means for me.

1. It's home.

I've never called anywhere other than PR my home, despite the time I've been away from it. Home is where your family is, where people close to you helped you learn to love and care for others, the place that saw you grow up, and where you can actually see yourself living in at some point.

2. The family- and friend-centered culture

Puerto Rican culture, and in turn, its people, are very family- and friend-oriented. We grew up knowing almost our entire extended family even up to second and third cousins, we will always figure out a reason to go somewhere and be with each other, and these people (both family and friends) make up an important part of who we are individually.

3. The lively spirit of our people

This is probably one of the biggest things I miss. We are an overall happy, musical, friendly, joyous, and optimist people. Despite the economy or education problems that affect everyone worldwide, Puerto Ricans have actually been considered the happiest people in the world. The 365 days of the calendar are not enough for the approximate 500 festivals and celebrations in Puerto Rico.

4. Mami, Papi y Mi Hermana

In English: Mom, Dad, and my sister. Being such a family-centered culture, our parents and immediate family mean the world to us, and because of this, college is a bittersweet mix for many of us between finally being an adult and having to leave the people who mean so much to us. They make home what it is, they have moved Heaven and Earth for me, and they have always been there in highs and lows - so much more than simply people who raised me. Plus, mom's cooking is the best ever!

5. There's a need I can do something about

This point varies among many Puerto Ricans depending on their vocational choices. For me, I want to be a doctor and go back to work in Puerto Rico to do my part in improving the medical professional shortage problem. Currently, there is a shortage of doctors in virtually all major areas of medicine in Puerto Rico, and despite the island's size being 3500 square miles, the population is over 3.6 million. There aren't enough doctors for so many people; therefore, "see a need, fill a need." Puerto Rico needs everyone's help and, like many other brave people, I want to do my part.

As stated before, Puerto Rico is an amazing place and the people and culture are even better! I count the days until I can go back to the beautiful island, the great friends, the delicious food, and the loving family. I am sure I speak for myself and countless other Puerto Ricans when I say, "I can't wait to go back to my home, Puerto Rico."