Migration to the U.S.
In October of 2002, Sandra and her immediate family boarded a plane and flew to their new home in Austin, Texas. For the first few months, they lived in an apartment while they searched for a new home. Sandra and her family moved because an opportunity came up in the US with Intercraft for her father. When asked about whose decision it was to migrate, she responds “I’m assuming it was, yeah it definitely it was mostly my dad but I mean my mom was always supporting my dad.” Her father decided to take the job so that his daughters could gain better opportunities. Sandra says he is always telling her that there are few job opportunities for women in Mexico and so one of the reasons behind moving to the US was to help the Gonzalez sisters have a better future.
She remembers the day when her dad asked her if she wanted to move to the United States. She recognizes now that he wasn’t really asking her, but rather telling her that they were going to move. Both she and her sister were upset because they did not want to leave their friends and move to another country. They were also nervous that people would make fun of them for not knowing certain things and they were especially anxious about their English speaking abilities and failing behind in school. Since they went to private school in Mexico with a uniform, they were nervous that they wouldn’t have enough clothes to go to public school in the US. They had been the US before to go to Disney World, Las Vegas, and also do go shopping around El Paso. She enjoyed coming to the US every time, but “living there seemed a lot more different.” Sandra’s father told her in July that they were moving and they moved in October. Her mother packed their things and was careful to wrap the glass in newspapers so that it would not break on the journey to Texas. The Gonzalez family did not travel with much, but rather packed most of it into moving trucks that would meet them in America. Intercraft paid for lawyers to help the Gonzalez family obtain green cards. It also paid for the apartment they lived in initially, the cost of moving, and the rental car they first used.
The hardest cultural adjustment that Sandra and her family had to make was the adjustment to the eating schedule in the US. In Mexico, they would get out of school at 2 pm and come home to eat lunch at 2 or 2:30 pm and then dinner would be around 10 pm. In the US, people ate lunch around 11 am and dinner around 6 pm. While her family was able to keep dinnertime at around 9:30 or 10 pm at home, it was hard for Sandra when she went over to a friend’s house for dinner because they would eat so early and she’d be hungry again by 10 pm.
As for her family, Sandra remembers the hardest part for her parents was adjusting to living in a new language and finding a routine. Finding a church was especially hard for her family because they were looking for a Spanish mass. At first, they went to church in downtown Austin, but later they found a different church that was closer to home. Sandra’s family, especially her father, is not particularly fond of the church because, since they started going there, the church has been asking for large donations so it could build a new $13 million building, which her family considers unnecessary. One time, she and her family tried to leave church before the Father had left and they weren’t allowed to. This infuriated her father, who “lost it” and now the family is allowed to leave whenever they want. The Gonzalez family has had a lot of arguments with the church in Austin, mainly because “they’re just not what church is about. They’re very about money.” For this reason, the family is not a huge part of the church community, either, which is also something that is different from their life in Mexico where almost everyone who went to their church also went to their school.
Aside from adjusting to the eating schedule and finding a new church, Sandra and her family were able to maintain a good portion of their lifestyle from Mexico. Sandra’s parents found a store in downtown Austin called La Hacienda where they could get all of the ingredients they needed for their favorite Mexican dishes. Furthermore, they still spoke Spanish at home and they kept their family weekend tradition of going to church and then going out to a restaurant for a meal afterwards. In Mexico, that meal was lunch because church ended at 1 pm and in the US, that meal was breakfast because church started at 7:30 am. Overall, the transition into life in the US for Sandra was not terribly difficult, although she does miss the candy that she can get in Mexico but not the US.