This post was originally written before the pandemic.
I moved to the U.S. 11 years ago, which means that I have been living here for a third of my life; however, the more than 20 years that I lived in Mexico and the way I was raised is not something I can easily forget. My family is still in Mexico and I have lots of friends there, which helps me to be close to my roots, makes me miss my country, and (I can’t lie about this) compare…
Recently, while I was talking with a friend, I realized that the quote, “no soy ni de aquí, ni de allá” (I’m not from here neither from there) fits perfectly into my life as a Latin mom, Hispanic woman, and Mexicana living in the United States.
San Antonio is really close to the border, so much so that in two to three hours you can be in one of the border towns. We are close but we are different, and these are some of the things I have realized that are unique about each culture.
If someone takes my cellphone to see the weather, they could be confused looking at Celsius instead of Fahrenheit. I can understand when someone tells me how the weather is in Fahrenheit, but I may feel that is hotter when they tell me it is 30°C instead of 86°F, or I know it’s freezing when I see 0°C instead of 32°F. The same thing happens with weight, I prefer kilos instead of pounds, or with height, I use meters instead of feet. When I get asked my height, I must think twice to respond 5 foot 4 inches while I would have said 1.65 meters immediately.
In Mexico we write the dates differently, starting from the day, then the month, and the year. One time, we had some paperwork to do in the border and the expiration date was 01/03/2017. Used to the way it is in this country, I thought that the month was first and that I had missed the date, just to realize some time later that I still had two months to take care of this.
It may seem normal to have lunch between 11 and 11:30 AM. For my kids, this is normal because of school and we also eat around the same time because of office hours; however, this is not how it is in our country. In Mexico, many people start cooking at that time to have everything ready for when the kids get out of school, which is around 1 PM for many students in public schools. And if we talk about dinner time, in Monterrey having dinner at 9 or 10 PM is completely normal.
I like country music and can also listen to the Top 20 in Hip Hop and R&B, but if you ask me, I prefer banda, cumbias, and norteñas. I listen to reggaeton because of my sister and enjoy the Latin music vibe in general. I know that for many, Mexican music is represented with mariachi, but it is much more than that and as I’ve had the opportunity to listen to English music, for those who want recommendations I’m always willing to provide what is trending in Spanish.
Latin parties are not what everyone thinks, and you can either plan a party in less than a day or carefully plan every detail in advance. Kids’ parties are not limited to a time and can last all day. When I started taking my kids to parties, at the beginning it was weird to be limited to a schedule (3 to 5 PM, for example), but I later started seeing the advantages of this and my kids’ parties are also usually in a two-hour window. Talking about parties, I also really like presents that are accompanied by a card, which I think is a nice detail.
Forgive me if sometimes I don’t greet everyone as expected; I feel like I never know how to do it. It is not that I didn’t learn manners when I was a kid. If I were in my hometown, I would greet everyone by the hand or with a kiss on the cheek, but I know that for many this could be strange. As there are many people who say hi while shaking hands or giving a hug, I know that some prefer to say hi in general.
There are many other things that may be different, some that I have already adapted that I don’t even notice now, and others that I’m still assimilating to. I may be in a middle point, but for now, “no soy ni de aquí, ni de allá” (I’m not from here neither from there) and that also has some advantages.