During my first month I refused to see myself as a “foreigner”, I attempted to camouflage myself within the crowds of the university. Although I spoke English with other exchange students, I yearned to quickly make Argentine friends to get as far away from all these “Americans”. I add quotations on American because “American” means anyone from the American continent which includes Latin America, Central America, and North America. This study abroad experience in Argentina has emphasized that this term is not a synonym for the United States but simply a term for the region. As a U.S. and Mexican citizen, I have never made the mistake of calling myself “American” throughout my time here. I am witnessing first hand how people feel about those who are from the U.S., culturally unaware, and travel to their countries then claim that they are “American”. Yes for some here and in other countries it does evoke memories of U.S. imperialistic tendencies.
With that being said when asked, “de donde sos?” (where are you from?) I say from the United States…but that isn’t enough. By the sound of my Spanish accent and the way I confidently speak, people here question whether or not I am really from the United States as if one from the U.S. is not supposed to speak Spanish well. I then always explain that my parents are from Mexico and that Spanish (or Castellano as they call it here) was my first language. People then connect the dots and it makes sense for some but for others, they go as far as in saying, “entonces eres Mexicana” (then you’re Mexican). In some sense yes I consider myself more Mexican than “American” but I was born in California and I have been told, while abroad say you are from the U.S. My identity and identity in general in Latin America is fluid. A great majority of Argentines consider themselves as white, meaning European because of Argentine history and immigration. The foreign exchange girls from Italy in my class with Argentines are definitely loved by my professor as she speaks Italian with them and raves how great Italy is. Every day I am reminded that being from the U.S. isn’t as great as those from the U.S. make it seem. “American” pride can be viewed negatively abroad due to stereotypes, prejudices and U.S. intervention within their country.
I am a Yanqui (a term used in Latin America to refer to someone from the Northeast region) and a Mexican who is living in a country in Latin America where people claim to their whiteness.
And in response to the college admission scandal, I am a proud first generation Latina student who made this study abroad possible after many tried to take this opportunity away from me.