It was August 5, 2008 when I left behind what I knew, who I knew and anything that seemed familiar to me. I had made the decision I never thought I would make when I was a little kid. Even a year before that day I was dreaming of moving in a different direction. That day I crossed the border, heading into Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Out of all 50 states in the United States I seemed to have chosen the least popular one, everyone around me wished me luck in Ohio, or Idaho while I was headed somewhere else. I do like to step away from my comfort zone. This time I had no idea if I would turn back.
Six years later I do look back at that day. Even though I am back in Mexico I learned a lot about others but mainly about myself from August 5, 2008 to August 5, 2014. I made the decision based on athletics, but it changed my life. I went in blindfolded, I came out with a different perspective about pretty much everything. Except, mexican food remains as the best one to exist.
People ask me, what was it like to live in another country? I divide my six years into several parts. The first part was great because I was excited to discover a new place, a new culture. I believe there were about 5 mexicans at the college I attended my first two years. Thanks to Iowa Western Community College I got the opportunity to live abroad (once again).
I was excited to be away from home, but it didn’t take long for the excitement to vanish as I was being tested like never before. Running for a college in the U.S. is no joke no matter how good you are, in my case, how good you think you are. From day one I knew I was in for a huge challenge. The days went by and the results on the track were not pleasing my coach, at races I was not even close to delivering what was expected from me. Nerves and pressure were getting the best out of me.
I was pushing my body to an unknown limit, but my mind was not willing to go down the same path, too bad it had to. About two months into this adventure I finally had a good race. It took away lots of pressure, and then came Chicago, where with a better race I proved to myself and others that I had made it over the hump. Not to say things were easy from that point on but I regained confidence and never looked back.
That is why Chicago is such an important city for me, it really marked a before and after on my whole adventure. I kept working hard and my times continued to drop. On my second year I made it to the Half-Marathon Nationals. I didn’t win or wasn’t even close but I enjoyed it so much because of everything it meant and how hard it had been to make it there.
Running got me into the United States, but education kept me there. After two years at Iowa, where I made a lot of friends in a place where mexicans are a rare species, and winters can hardly get any colder I moved down to the Republic of Texas. Now Denton, Texas was my home. I kept running but on my own time, and I really started to study.
It took me a while to get used to everything, Texas has a mind of its own. Remember that I said that in Iowa there were around 5 mexicans in the whole college, here that number was probably the same but per classroom. After a whole year of adaptation I finally got things rolling and focused on journalism like never before. I always knew that if I didn’t make it in life as a runner, I would love to travel the world to talk about sports.
In Iowa I had also studied the same thing but things got really serious at the Mayborn School of Journalism. There was no way I could have combined varsity track and journalism. I had a hard time digesting things at the beginning but with practice came great things. I started doing stories about pretty much anything I could think of. The best one yet is when I had the chance to fly on a WW2 airplane for free while recording the whole experience.
As I was studying to become a great reporter, I was also preparing myself to run marathons, (ran 4 while I was in Texas) and missed Boston by 75 seconds one time, I was the leader of the Running Club, I usually had one or two jobs to pay for my own expenses and tried to have some kind of social life. It wasn’t easy but it was possible. By this point I was barely going back home to see the family.
Coming into my final semester I had been looking for internships all over the place. I applied to almost every place possible. I went home for Christmas without a thing but the day I came back Telemundo called me for an interview, I obviously went and got the internship.
So on the final stretch of my college life I had even one more responsibility which meant that twice a day I had to drive an hour to and from Telemundo plus working on the local newscasts plus a sports show. It was a non-stop race to the finish. I survived and before May 10 (graduation day) I already had two real-world jobs waiting for me.
I did celebrate the accomplishment of graduating taking into consideration how hard it had been to get there. But there was not that much time to celebrate as the monday after graduation I was already working on my first assignment for «Al Día», a local hispanic newspaper.
Just when I thought I had seen it and experienced it all I was in for yet another wake up call. I had never worked in a newspaper before, but I was hired for my writing skills. I had never edited a whole tv show before (at Telemundo), but I was hired because they liked how I did things during my internship. I was again under a lot of stress and pressure, I was again close to quitting and packing, but that did not happen. I do not do that, I wasn’t going to that time.
It took me close to two months to get things turned around. I had hit rock-bottom, there was only going up from there. I was now being sent out to cover the Cowboys, the Rangers, NASCAR and many other sporting events around the area. I started receiving less criticism and more compliments towards my work. I had pretty much started all over again.
The year went by, running was put on hold for a while due to work but I was doing what I liked. I was now ok with dealing with pressure, and was able to deliver 99% of the time. I started looking for a Work Visa Sponsorship but that never came, so I prepared my trip back home for good.
May 20, 2014 was the day I took off, but hopefully I get a chance to go back. Not necessarily to Dallas or Iowa, where I made great memories but anywhere to a country that pushed me to my limits over and over again. A place where I discovered how hard life can be when you’re on your own but also how good it feels to get back up.
Like Rocky says; «It’s not about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you get hit and keep moving forward.»
That is so true. I had great moments but I also fought huge battles against myself to make things work.
I learned a lot about myself and what I am capable of, something I’m quite sure wouldn’t have happened if I stayed at home and watched life go by. I lived some of the best experiences a guy at 25 could have wanted. My job as a reporter was just getting started in the DFW area, but I had the experiences of a veteran.
I hope I made an impact on the life of others just like many others did on mine. Thanks to running I got in, thanks to journalism I stayed, but thanks to perseverance I was able to hold on. Today I am collaborating on a project that gives more athletes the chance to experience what I experienced. (CMASAthletes.com)
Right now I am fighting another one to find a job. It’s taking me time but if I was able to overcome I did in just the past six years, I know I will find one. In the end, all I can say is…. «Thank You USA.»