List compiled by La Gente staff writer, Victoria García Lecuona

It is not uncommon for people to segment and categorize people by race or ethnicity. Latinos, despite their varying ethnicities, nationalities and races, are often depicted as homogenous people. Because of this, as my friends and I moved to the U.S. for college, we are either immediately labeled as Latinos or looked at in disbelief because we do not conform to what society has defined as the typical Latino look or aesthetic. The way we look and the place we were born have shaped our experiences in college from the moment we nervously entered the dorms on our first day.

I gathered a small sample of international Latinos studying in different universities in the United States to recall the first memory that comes to mind when I ask them: What have you experienced in college that you might not have experienced if you were not Latino?

  • Andrés Pinedo: Mexico City, Mexico

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    “Every Monday a cafeteria employee brings food from her house to share with me and makes sure I don’t miss home.”

  • Lorenza Galvis: Bogotá, Colombia

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    “People just assume I have never been to the States before and always ask me how I heard of colleges in the US.”

  • Victoria Venning: Santiago, Chile

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    “I have been asked if we have Netflix in Chile too many times. Yes, I know who Walter White is!”

  • Freddy Carlberg: Mexico City, Mexico

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    “So many people are shocked when I tell them time and time again that I am, in fact, Mexican.”

  • Alvaro Palazuelos: Monterrey, Mexico

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    “So far I love my experience in college as a Latino because I get to talk to a lot of staff and workers in Spanish, my native tongue.”

  • Renata Brockmann: Mexico City, Mexico

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    “Yes, I will be here next semester now that Trump has won.”

  • Alejandro Garcia: Bogotá, Colombia

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    “Los Angeles is the best, but one thing it doesn’t have is Aguardiente.”

  • Paulina Bremer: Monterrey, Mexico

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    “When I first told people I was from Mexico, they asked me if I meant New Mexico.”

  • Isabella Uzcátegui: Caracas, Venezuela

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    “When I am asked where I am from, I say Venezuela, and most people understand Minnesota.”

  • Pablo Donado: Barranquilla, Colombia

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    “When I tell people that my name is Pablo and that I am from Colombia, they often ask me if my last name is Escobar.”

  • Alec Serrano: Mexico City, Mexico

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    “Once a girl told me that Los Angeles was closer to the equator than Mexico.”

  • Paulina Argaña: Asunción, Paraguay

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    “Professors, RAs, even some students can’t differentiate my first names from my last names because in Latin America we have so many of them.”

  • Alex Fischman: Lima, Perú

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    “All you really need to make new friends is speak Spanish.”

  • Julián López-Birlain: Querétaro, México

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    “Living in Los Angeles is pretty similar to living in Querétaro, except reggaeton [is not as popular].”

  • Victoria García Lecuona: Mexico City, Mexico

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    “Even though I study at UCLA — meaning that I went through the same tedious and exhausting application process as everyone else — many people still assume that I do not know how to speak English.”