From Colombia to Spain to the USA: My story of Growth and Change

by Sofia De La Espriella | Thursday, Oct 05, 2023

I am Sofia De La Espriella, I was born in Bogotá, Colombia 23 years ago. I’m a proud FAU junior double majoring in Multimedia Journalism and History. I transferred to FAU last Fall and this year living in South Florida has definitely changed my life forever.

I was borned and raised in Colombia and I always had the dream of becoming a respected journalist in my country to help others.Coming from a country that historically has faced challenges with poverty, inequality, low access to quality education, and violence, definitely influenced in my desire to contribute to change through my passion: journalism.

Before 2020, I firmly believed that remaining rooted in my hometown was the correct trajectory for me. But when the pandemic unfolded, my optimism and hope for the future started to disappear. Seeking a transformative experience, I took a leap and embarked on an international exchange program in Barcelona, Spain. After a transformative six months, I returned to Colombia, only to realize that my old sense of belonging wasn't the same.

International exposure is undeniably transformative. As we grow within our native cultures, we unknowingly wear tinted glasses, shaping how we perceive and evaluate the world. Our upbringing instills biases, often leading us to inadvertently judge others based on stereotypes. As an emerging political journalist, my innate curiosity about global disparities intensified while in Spain. There, I confronted my own prejudices, realizing they were a product of ingrained biases.Committed to excellence, I recognized that embracing and understanding diverse cultures would be pivotal in advancing my career.

Yet, the thought of leaving behind my friends, university, and the life I'd built over 22 years was terrifying. However, my parents had relocated to the US during my exchange, which made the decision to leave Colombia slightly less difficult, given our close bond.

I’ve always believed strongly that dreaming big means making bold decisions and today I couldn't be happier with the choice I made. I look at myself one year ago with pride and nostalgia of everything that has happened in the last year. FAU changed my life, reshaped my dreams and most importantly, showed me that everything I'm dreaming of is possible. I’m proud to say I’m working as a News Editor in my second language just one year after moving, I’ve had great teachers and the honor of meeting my mentor in this journey and most importantly, I’ve been able to change for the better. As an international student, the experiences I’ve lived here have made me a more knowledgeable, open minded person and it has helped me deconstruct many beliefs that were deeply ingrained in the biases I had before.

I look to the future with excitement and happiness, every day I am more sure that I made the right decision. With the difficulties and challenges being an immigrant brings, I’m more than sure that it has all been worth it. The benefits of the experience I am having extend beyond just myself and my family. Through this, I know I’ll be able to achieve many of my professional and personal dreams like becoming a catalyst for change in Colombia and inspire thousands of Colombians and all immigrant students to fearlessly pursue their goals in life.

At the end of the day you’ll look back with a heart filled with gratitude and growth and that's when you’ll find out it was all worth it.