My Big Fat Colombian Family

My heritage is a huge part of who I am and I’m honestly so amazed by it. The whole passion for a culture like a hispanic culture is different and it varies by family and of course, by culture. Mainly, cultures have the tendency to either be individualistic or collectivistic. Allow me to give you a quick crash course in intercultural communication…

Individualistic cultures are me-me cultures. “get yourself up by your own bootstrap” type of cultures. It’s very independent, very self-driven, and that’s not to be confused with being selfish, but it’s a different approach to community-life. The idea is that you feel more of a motivation in and of yourself to go further and get ahead.

Collectivistic cultures are a we-we culture. The people of these cultures mainly respond with “what can we do to help you”, “what do we do”, “we can get through this together”. It’s a really beautiful thing and you’ll know and feel a collective culture when you’re in one. The people are super sweet and are almost always willing to help someone out in need, you feel a sense of community, in that regards.

So, for those of you who don’t know…  I’m Colombian. Well, my family is. Straight off the plane, utterly and completely COLOMBIAN. 

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…And that’s not even all of them.

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Being a part of the Colombian culture, means that it is highly collectivistic. For the most part, my family are very welcoming people. I’m sure it can be said about a lot of hispanic families, but when you’re around mine, you feel like you’re a part of something great. It’s never a dull moment with them.  Every time I get off the plane, there’s always a select few of my family members who come to pick me up and seeing their faces light up, is the reason why I go back, every.damn.time. There’s always food waiting at home and even more people to see.

Another reason as to why I go back is because of how pretty it is… We’re from the coast, more specifically, Cartagena of the Indies.

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There’s so many things to do in the city and believe me,  it is so easy to get lost in the city. But I guess that’s how you learn about a new country or city that you visit, right? How can you not get lost in a city that has so much history and beauty??

The city and country itself is as beautiful as its people. The people here are some of the sweetest people you will ever meet. With such ease, they are willing to accept someone as part of the family or group. When they say ‘hi’ they approach one with a hug and kiss on the cheek.

As I have said before: us, Colombians, are very family-oriented. I am not kidding! Many people have such a love for their families, that often times, in midst of all their successes or lack thereof, they’re always thankful for their family, because  of the pride they have for their family over successes/ material things.

I mean it’s great if you have boat loads of money or loads of success, but what’s even better is the support you have from the family. Here, family is always there for you to help you up, be that shoulder to lean on, and always around for a great time out. To many people, Family is everything.

In fact, when you ask colombians (or anyone of hispanic descent) about their immediate family, they don’t just talk about their parents and any siblings they have, they literally talk about their whole family. Hell, even when people ask me about my family, I go on and talk about all the fun memories I have had with some of them, both here in the states and over in Cartagena. Needless to say, the bond in my family is so strong that we have our own massive group chat on WhatsApp!

But overall, I’m so thankful for the united family I have, they have set down the foundation for my heritage, the way I should carry myself, among so many other things. My family is my motivation. I want to be a better person for not just myself, but for my family.

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Blood is thicker than water and my family has helped me through so much, that being my little rough patch with depression and anxiety. They helped me get the help I needed and still continue to motivate me everyday.

Even with miles and miles between us, I know that we will always remain united at heart.

Sending tons and tons of love and light your way,

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Accepting Criticism

Hey guys! I know it’s been a while, buuuut… I recently traveled to Australia!!! I did a week-long program that united other scholars from different countries with a common interest in business and entrepreneurship! It was an amazing experience and I hope that in the coming posts I can share with you some very important things that I have learned from this whole excursion.

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Photo by Catarina Sousa on Pexels.com

The week consisted of waking up early, getting on the bus on time, taking notes from various speakers, seeing new things and meeting new people, as well as learning from these people.

The one thing that I gained from this program has got to be the willingness to accept criticism. Not destructive, but constructive criticism. One day, we were in Melbourne at RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) and we were doing an exercise– as directed by a professor of that University– that was called an “elevator pitch”. For those wondering what an elevator pitch is, it’s basically a hypothetical (but possible) situation where you try to get a potential employer of a company that you have a strong desire to work for them, to look your way and consider you as a candidate for a job at their company. All while you’re in the elevator with them. It’s really fascinating! Here’s the prompt:

the challenge was: we had to keep this short, sweet and to the point. All under 2 minutes. Starting off, I did something simple.. which was follow the exact skeleton of this flow chart:

The Professor then asked for 3 people to come on up to the front of the room. I raised my hand because, well, why the fuck not? I wanted to learn how to craft a good pitch that didn’t sound too wordy.

So I go first, but before I started, the professor asks me what job am I going for and what type of company: both of which were already answered on this little piece of paper I had. I basically read off of my constructed flow chart and I trip up a bit, and as a result, I ran out of time.

It was time for people to critique me and give me their honest opinion of my elevator pitch. I’m not going to lie to you, but I felt like I was being attacked. People left and right were critiquing me really hard and I really was resisting the urge to talk back to them. But then in that same moment, I realized that I was taking it way too personal. I chose to do this because I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone.

So I listened intently to the people who were giving me feedback, I let them ‘roast’ me. Because I’m always looking to grow as a person. Further, I noticed that we, as humans, are so quick to judge/critique someone else, yet fail to look at ourselves and see where we fall short. We neglect to see it in ourselves, but choose to see it in other people.

Accepting criticism has been one of my toughest feats. I get it on a daily basis from some friends and a good bit of my family. I’ve never been good at accepting it, because well, I thought that if its something that I’m doing wrong, I should be able to learn it by myself.  My thought process was, No one really likes being told what to do. Anytime someone critiqued me, I would get on the defensive with a lame excuse. But thankfully, all those excuses ended the day I decided to accept criticism.

I decided that in order to grow, to learn, I had to learn how to accept criticism of others who may have more experience than me. What if I land a job that requires me to learn new things and to accept constructive criticism on the daily? How is getting mad at each critique going to help me out in the long run? It won’t.

Getting mad at critiques from people who expect better, isn’t a reflection on the person giving them, it’s a reflection of the person who takes it. I mean, picture this, you’re doing your work (whether it be in college, at an internship, etc) and your superior comes up to you to give you feedback on some work. If you get angry and storm off, then it just shows that you can’t accept criticism. What person is going to hire someone who cannot take open and honest feedback?

So Back to the story… with all the constructive criticism that I received from the audience, I was then able to re position my stance a bit:

And I made it with enough time to spare! What followed after I gave this pitch another try, were less critiques. A lot of people clapped for me, while others still critiqued by saying that I sounded ‘too desperate’. Nevertheless, I learned something new that day and it gave me more of a motivation to grow and to get out of my comfort zone.

The Mother-Daughter Relationship

Hello my lovely readers! It’s been quite a while since I blogged on here. I had finals left and right and I graduated yesterday, which is just too surreal.

Today’s blogpost is dedicated to all the mothers on this beautiful day. You are loved and you are amazing. You are our first cheerleader and our number one counselor.

But more specifically, this post is going to be about my mom and the many ways in which she is awesome.

My mom is my best friend. She is the most kind and loving mother. Shes been there for everything: my first days at school, boy problems, sticky situations, my teenage years as a whole, move in day, etc. My mom is my rock, she is the one person I can turn to in a time of need.

But it wasn’t always like this (for the most part it has, but let me explain). I remember being in my teenage years and thinking, “what does she know, She’s a MOM.”and every time I thought that, I was always proven wrong. My mom is the wisest person I know. She’s actually been the inspiration for some of my posts (like here and here).

From learning how to cook and learning how to navigate situations, my mom is #1 when it comes to teaching and listening. I can never push anything past her. Seriously. Anytime I feel down, she always asks me “what’s up?” and I go, “nah I’m fine” and she’ll say something like “no seriously what’s up” and it’s like she has a 6th sense, so I eventually tell her what’s up and she’ll tell me, truthfully, if I’m overreacting or if I have a valid reason to feel a certain way, she’ll sit with me and give me advice regardless.IMG_8421

She is literally nominated as the “cool aunt” by my cousins. At first, I never really saw it, because, well I was on the outs with my mom, but I see it now. She reminds me everyday (in some way, shape or form) that a day without laughter is a day wasted.

Even though I get my looks from my dad, I get my creative mindset from her. Shes always pushing me to be a better person and I cannot thank her enough for her constant guidance and lessons. She is my favorite person.

She’s one of those people who sees the good in every person, she saw potential in me, even when I was depressed. She gave me confidence and has impressed on me the importance of things (good and bad) happening for a reason.

For that, she’s my superhero.

Happy Mother’s Day, ma! And to all the amazing women who are doing everything for their children!

As they said at my graduation yesterday, “It is never too late to be a better daughter, a better mother to your children, a better son, a better person”

sending love and light your way,

My Love-Hate Relationship

So I’m gonna do something a little unconventional: a poem about my love-hate relationship– can you guess what it is? Read and find out!

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I thought I’d track my macros on MyFitnessPal turns out it’s something I hate

I have to log whatever I ate

Make it a habit of trying to eat healthy foods on my plate

On top of that, everyday I have to track my bodyweight

I wanna be strong and toned by a specific date

But with all this good food I hold so dear, it’s almost impossible to not frustrate

I dedicate this all to my people who demonstrate

What it means to be fit and that we can’t deprecate

On how our bodies are, we cannot dissipate into what the media celebrates

Therefore, it is up for us to educate

what it means to be strong and designate A plan of action and concentrate

on what we want, not what the world emulates I don’t write to devastate but I write to captivate the minds of young individuals

We must deviate from societal influences and innervate all that is good for us

Our weights fluctuate It’s so easy to hesitate on what we should eat and integrate a set of healthy habits

It irritates me to see that I have to take my phone out every time I satiate my palate

I appreciate my body for all it does and

I may hate MyFitnessPal and may even down rate it

But one of my goals this year was to accentuate my body, care for it and regulate it.

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I hope you found this empowering and if you would like to see more poems like this, let me know in the comments below!

Special thanks to Jamie Gist Writing for inspiring me! Go check out her work and show them some love!

Knowing What You Want

So just recently, I got slapped

Not in the way you think though… I was slapped with the truth.

Alright, let me back track a bit… I had some time to kill before my next class and on some days, I’m on campus all day. I had remembered that I needed to see a college advisor to ask them something that I had noticed on my transcript. I paid more attention to this because I am graduating soon and will be transferring to another college. So I signed in and waited until the next counselor was available.

Boy, did I get more than what I was asking for.

Enter a no-bullshit counselor.

“And what is your name, young lady?”

“Karen”

I follow this counselor into their office. I set down my stuff and I asked them a question regarding my transcript, to which they answered with a simple solution and the next thing I was asked was where I was applying, what my major is, normal things that advisers ask. The conversation somehow lead to me talking about a study abroad opportunity that I wanted to do, along with many more opportunities that I have been given in just a week into the new year. What is in bold are the truths that I was slapped with.

“Oh so you think that *insert opportunity here* just popped out of thin air.”

I stared at them, they stared back at me. I’m so serious.When I first thought of receiving a unique opportunity, I honestly thought it that it came pretty much out of nowhere. However, I realized later that it was because of my academic achievement so far at this school. Furthermore, it was because I was affiliated with an honor society that grants opportunities like studying abroad and taking courses at very well-known institutions, among many other unique experiences that students can take advantage of.

“Look, you know what you want…”

They then tell me that while I am a communications major I can “win people over” with my words, but that I can’t fool them when it comes to body language. Which is fair because I noticed that in some things I talked about I got more animated when I explained what each opportunity was about. They noticed that I smiled when I talked about going to school in one area in particular… The New England area.

I love the area very much, I have gone in and around the area on multiple occasions and have fallen in love more each time.

If I went to school in this area, I could have better opportunities for jobs and unique experiences than local universities nearby. To me, I think taking advantage of applying to schools in the New England area would be well worth it. It’s a risk that I should take. If I have a chance to be a part of something so much bigger than myself, why should I wait? What was holding me back?

“… Articulate what you want, before someone gives you something they think you want.”

This right here was the mother of all slaps. I feel like each of the little quotes that I have in bold, have led to this big one right here. It’s almost as if I was running around with my head chopped off, looking for answers to my situation, when the answer was so simple and much closer than I had imagined.

Maybe some part of me knew exactly what to do, but wasn’t sure how to go about it. What that talk did to me was motivate me. It motivated me to become more assertive in the things that I wanted to do. Things that I shouldn’t even be putting on the back burner, like unique opportunities to study abroad!

More importantly, I learned that I shouldn’t take these things lightly. It is only a matter of time before I get handed something that someone else thinks would be great for me. Getting something that another person thinks I want, wouldn’t be as rewarding or worthwhile as the opportunity I have gotten through the honor society.

This counselor summed it all up by explaining to me that in order to get what I want, I have to be honest in what it is I want and that I have to make a transaction. When you’re out at a store, you can’t just pick up something, look at it, then put it back and have the nerve to say you made a transaction. In reality, did you really make that transaction? No.

So make that transaction! Pick up that opportunity, inquire about it, and take a leap of faith in knowing what you want!

After that day, I realized that I needed someone to tell me the honest and brutal truth. As wild and amazing as it sounds, I feel like the universe and God have come together and given me a nice thing called the truth. In life, we all deserve someone who will tell us what it is that we should hear and more importantly, to be pushed in the right direction.

Find what you want to do and articulate it, make it known what it is that you want to accomplish.

Much love and strength,

Karenn

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