After spending the first 18 years of her life in Peru, Gisella Silva now tackles college in a new, diverse environment.
Silva, a third-year event management student at UF, moved to Gainesville, Florida, about two years ago with her family. Silva said that even though she didn’t grow up in the the United States, she always had somewhat of an American culture.
“I had an American flag printed in my house because my mom grew up here. I also went to an American school,” Silva said.
Although this aided Silva in adjusting to American life, she still encountered many things in the United States that she wasn’t used to.
“When I got here, I didn’t know most of the music. All of the rap like the Drake songs . . . I had no idea,” Silva said.
The interaction among people at UF was different than at Silva’s school in Peru. She said that people keep to themselves more at UF.
“So, if you went to a classroom at UF, everyone is sort of doing their own thing . . . sort of waiting for their class to start. If I were to enter a class back home, everyone is talking,” Silva said.
Silva said this is because Americans value independence. It’s family-oriented in Peru so people naturally depend on each other more.
One of Silva’s favorite differences, however, is the average grocery store.
“Going into Publix and having 40 flavors of Pop-Tarts to choose from . . . that’s like really exciting,” Silva said.
With differences, come struggles.
Silva said that her biggest struggle is coming across as uncultured in certain experiences. This is because no one she meets assumes that she is from Peru.
“In freshman year, I had to take an American history class and it was the first time I was ever taking American history. The class was very challenging for me; I had no knowledge of American history,” Silva said.
Silva said that most of the people taking the class with her didn’t think it was that challenging and didn’t understand why she found it so difficult.
“Just telling myself that it’s okay not to know everything when everyone else expects you sometimes to know it because it seems so normal, I think that has been one of the biggest challenges,” Silva said.
Despite this, the spirit of UF is what Silva said reminds her the most of home.
“Seeing one side of the football stadium people screaming ‘orange’ and then the other screaming ‘blue.’ I think that brings a big sense of community,” Silva said.
Whenever she goes on trips across the United States, Silva plays a game with her sisters where she tries to find at least one person that is from UF.
“Without fail, in the past three trips that I gone to, I found a Gator,” Silva said.