by Katrina
I have always prided myself on my ability to overcome obstacles and adapt to changes in my life. For as long as I can remember, I've been able to make the most of my present, look forward to the future and use the past as a tool to help me maneuver gracefully through life. However, the most recent hurdle I was faced with has been by far the biggest struggle in my life.

When my parents first told me that I was moving to America, I didn't want to believe it. I had to decide to go, but I know that I had no choice. I thought of everything that I was to leave behind, everything that has been familiar to me for seventeen years: friends, family. I was even going to miss the hot, humid weather of the Philippines. How was I supposed to let go of all that I held near and dear to my heart? I thought that maybe, my parents could just leave without me, but that thought scared me even more. Being the youngest of my brothers and sisters, I wasn't accustomed to being without my parents and the thought of living without them was enough to send me to tears. The choice was clear. I was moving to America.

In the process of moving, I often thought about what it would be like to live in America. I was frightened. I didn't want to think of everything that could go wrong so I just thought about how much I was going to miss everyone and everything. These were sad times for me. I solemnly bid my good-byes and I was too sorrowful to allow the excitement of moving to America to set in.

I was completely unprepared for America. For a while I thought I would never adjust. The thought of having no friends for the rest of my life scared me to death. Was I ever going to fit in? Was I ever going to learn my way around the city? Was school going to be difficult? These questions plagued my mind. I found comfort in the company of my cousins. Luckily, although they were all boys, we were pretty close in age. They were my key to making the most of my time here in America.

I was introduced to my cousin Charles' interesting clique of friends. Each had their own unique personality and everyone was extremely friendly and helpful. Through spending time with them I am learning what life is really like in America. They "Americanized" me and in return, I help them keep in touch with their Filipino culture since they were all born and raised here. They look out for me, warning me with the things I should beware of. I enjoy their company and in a sense, I have found a second family.

I am still struggling in adjusting to the lifestyle and culture here, but each day, it gets easier. I still think about what I have left behind, but I am no longer as depressed because, in coming to America, I didn't lose anything as I thought I would. Everything I had left in the Philippines, I will always have in my heart. What I have gained here in America and what lies ahead of me is priceless.