History of Multicultural Greek Organizations

Countless sources cite the positives of joining a sorority in college as a great way to make friends, an easy way to get into service and leadership, good access to an academic support system, and an excellent way to build a huge post-grad network. Furthermore, according to Elite Daily, students who “go Greek” in college are more likely to graduate. Moreover, according to the Fraternity Advisor, both the first female senator and first female astronaut were Greek, and 63% of the U.S. President’s cabinet members since 1900 have been Greek. That said, it’s no wonder there are an estimated 9 million Greek members nationally (both undergraduate and post-graduate).

Despite all of this data, you might still be looking at a sorority and thinking “that’s not for me.” Speaking from personal experience, I really wanted to join a sorority when I got to college, but what I knew about sororities didn’t click with me—I just didn’t see myself as a “sorority girl.” But one day, as I was walking through the student union at my campus, I came across a sorority whose banner was written in Spanish, whose members all had a strong air of individuality, and who were—for the most part—Latina. That’s when I knew I had found my home in multicultural Greek life.

But first, some history on Greek life in the United States:

The types of sororities and fraternities that are popularized in western culture belong to one of two councils: the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) and the Inter-Fraternity Conference (IFC). The former comprises of 26 sororities, and the latter of 69 fraternities. Greek life in the United States was started in 1776 by Phi Beta Kappa At the College of William and Mary, who are known as the first fraternity. It wasn’t until 1852 that the first sorority, Alpha Delta Pi, was founded at Wesleyan Female College.

Over fifty years later at Cornell University, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. was founded in 1906. Two years later in 1908 at Howard University, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. was founded. These two organizations would go on to be known as the first historically black fraternal organizations, and members of the National Pan-Hellenic Council. This council, also known as “The Divine Nine,” comprises of nine sororities and fraternities rich in African-American history and culture.

In 1931, a new kind of fraternal organization arose when Phi Iota Alpha Fraternity, Inc. was founded. This fraternity is known as the oldest Latino fraternal organization in existence. In 1975, two more organizations were founded: Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity, Inc., and Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Inc.—the latter being the first Latina sorority in the United States. Since then, multicultural Greek Life has been on the rise, a and oftentimes, students entering college don’t even know about its existence.

Multicultural Greek organizations can’t be grouped into one council like the other organizations because multiple councils exist. For example, there’s the National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations (NALFO), which is home to seventeen sororities and fraternities, from Alpha Pi Sigma Sorority, Inc., to La Unidad Latina, Lambda Upsilon Lambda Fraternity Inc.; from Hermandad de Sigma Iota Alpha, Inc., to Omega Phi Beta Sorority Inc. Though you do not have to be Latino/a or Hispanic to join one of these organizations, Latino fraternal organizations are deeply rooted in Latino tradition, with a strong emphasis on unity, strength, and diversity.

That said, there are many other merits to multicultural Greek organizations aside from the more blatant “multicultural” aspect. Foremost, multicultural fraternities and sororities tend to be smaller—a lot smaller—than NPC and IFC. That means that you can expect to know all of your sorority sisters. And I don’t mean having just seen them in passing and knowing their name—I mean knowing their name, favorite color, family history, having cried in their car at least twice, and meeting for Sunday brunch every week. In addition, a smaller chapter makes it more likely that you’ll get to work on the projects you’re interested in, and your opinions will be more likely to be heard. Moreover, though money should never be the thing that makes you choose an organization or hold you back from joining one, multicultural organizations do tend to be a little bit cheaper than NPC and IFC.

Of course, there are cons to joining  a multicultural organization. Because they are smaller, be prepared to work hard. Multicultural organizations do about just as much as their bigger NPC and IFC counterparts—that means parties, fundraisers, socials, recruitment, and community service done on a similar scale but with a fraction of the people to help. That just means that when you join a multicultural organization, you need to be prepared to work hard.

So, whether you’re about to start college or it’s still a few years away, or maybe you’re already there and are interested in a sorority, make sure to look into your current of future school’s roster of multicultural organizations. If you’re ready to work hard and live proudly in your culture and tradition, all the while still enjoying the benefits of being in a “normal” sorority, be sure to give multicultural Greek life a chance!

Girl Talk: Dieting and Eating Disorders

Through various forms of media Latinas are seen to be either “short, fat, ugly, poor, uneducated, or gangster,” or “sexy, exotic, naughty, and beautiful.” Apparently, in the eyes of the media, we are either maids or accessory girlfriends- a portrayal of less than 1% of the actual Latina population. Such a phenomena is known as underrepresented bias.

Underrepresented bias, however, can be misleading and dangerous. For example, if a doctor has an underrepresented bias of cancer test results, that means the doctor probably took a sample of benign cells only, even though cancerous cells were present. He or she then concluded that the patient didn’t have cancer. Without a second opinion, this patient might never get the treatment he or she needs to recover.

For young Latinas, the media’s underrepresented bias towards Latinas unconsciously implants lies into their brain, which can lead to skewed self-identity. They might feel that as a Latina they can only succeed if they play the role of a sexy, accessory girlfriend, or incorrectly assume that they are destined to be “low-lives.” Worse, they might begin to associate “good looks” to success, and “ugliness” to failure.

More and more adolescents resort to dieting, and eventually disordered eating, to attain their idealized figure. A diet can be healthy, but not always. A person (or animal’s) diet needs to specifically fulfill their needs. Some people need to stay away from gluten, due to Celiac Disease. Others might need more protein in order to build muscle. Most of the time, the media tries to tell us that certain diets can help one “lose weight fast” by cutting calories, carbohydrates, or fats. While their claims may be true, it doesn’t mean that this kind of diet is healthy for everyone. Calories, carbohydrates, and fats are required at different quantities for different people, and are essential to life. Nonetheless, the way the media portrays these diets can influence people to believe that they’re”good, healthy diets” for everyone, justifying what can become anorexia or orthorexia.

Of course, the media isn’t the sole cause of eating disorders. Eating disorders might emerge from past experiences with bullying. They might be triggered by a highly stressful point in life, when one feels their only sense of control is in what they eat. Often times, they start off as an attempt to eat healthier, but become addiction later on. Other forms of eating disorders, like bulimia and binge eating disorder, stem from emotional eating. Lastly, there is EDNOS (eating disorder not otherwise specified).

Among Latinas, food culture conflicts with American standards. Food can be a big part family and social life in Latin countries, but not so much in America.

“In my experience, the eating disorder started as anorexia but it was was hard to maintain because food is such an important part of my culture and it’s always being presented or pushed,” explains Anahi Ortega.

If a Latina has a bad relationship with food, her traditional family might not understand its mental and emotional value, treating it as a physical problem. The food culture also makes binge eating and bulimia easier to hide. As a result, many Latinas go undiagnosed. 10% of Americans were found to experience an eating disorder sometime in their life, while at least yearlong present anorexia was found to be 0.02%, bulimia at 0.92%, and binge eating disorder at 1.19% in Latinas.

The low percentages are evidence that eating disorders need to be made more aware of and become less of a taboo to Hispanic culture.

Dealing with College Rejection—now what?

I remember getting rejected from my dream school like it was just yesterday. It was early spring of 2013 and I was on a class trip when I got the fateful email from The University of Chicago. “Dear Eliani, we regret to inform you,” I stopped reading there. ‘Dear Eliani?’ I scoffed. I wasn’t dear. If I was dear they would have let me in. ‘We regret to inform you,’ I rolled my eyes. If you really regretted it, you would have let me in. To say that I was crushed is an understatement. I went off to be by myself for a few hours and cried about what then felt like a great loss.

But I couldn’t mope for long. I was about to graduate, my next question—as should be yours—was “What next?” Hopefully, you’re like me and didn’t put all of your eggs in one basket and applied to multiple schools. And if you did, that’s okay too. A lot of schools have rolling admission and late deadlines, so even if you got rejected from your one school, or even all of your schools, there’s still plenty of hope that you’ll make it to college in the fall.

Despite there still being hope, it might still be tough to just get over the rejection. A few things to remember are that a degree is a degree, and your education will be just as valuable and just as much of an investment even if you have to go to a state school versus a fancy ivy league. Secondly, if you’re trying to go into a field where you will require a post graduate education—for example, if you’re trying to be a doctor, a lawyer, or a businesswoman—where you get your undergraduate degree matters a whole lot less. A lot of us are inclined to go to the fancy out of state private school. We all shoot for the Harvards, the Cornells, the Carnegies, but when you’re looking at another 6-10 years of school after high school, you have to ask yourself: do you have Harvard money?

Maybe none of this is helping, and you’re still bummed you won’t be going to your dream school in the fall. My next recommendation would be to research the schools you did get into. Find reasons to fall in love with them. Do they have a really cool tradition that you’re excited to be a part of? Do they have a budding Greek life that you wouldn’t have thought to join at your dream school? Are they in really great locations that you never would have thought to live in had you not applied?

If you’re like me, you don’t take rejection well, and despite telling yourself that you’re saving money and starting to fall in love with your new alma matter, you’re still reeling from the rejection. I remember going to my college orientation, still miserable that I wasn’t on a plane to Chicago. I also remember falling in love with my campus the second I set foot on it. I remember marveling at how different the city was from my home town. And most importantly, I remember the excitement I had as I explored and met new people, and finally felt happy to be attending my new school.

My main takeaway is this: There are plenty of fish in the sea, and even more universities for you to apply to. They might not be the school of your dreams, but they have every potential to be the schools of your successful and happy reality.

Girl Talk: Latinx and Education

business chicaAccording to the Pew Research Center, the Latinx community is the largest minority group in the country, making up about 17% of the United State’s population. However, while many Latinx students go on to pursue higher education beyond high school, many end up dropping out due to economic strains and the pressure to provide for their families rather than themselves.

Then, there are those of us whom are perhaps lucky to not be considered a sole provider for our household. Growing up in the U.S. and watching my mom struggle to make ends meet without a college education, cleaning toilets and breaking her back for hours on end in heavy labor has made me realize how important education is.

I’m not saying that other Latinx students watching their parents struggle don’t realize it either, but I guess I am privileged. As I stated before, I do not face the pressure to be the sole provider within my household — I, unlike thousands, millions, of other Latinx students, am given the opportunity to pursue higher education.

Without a college degree in the U.S., we are basically nothing – people see us as inferior and brush us off as unintelligent because we don’t speak their language or broken parts of it.

Education is important to me because I am an undocumented student and I don’t have many opportunities for financial stability without it. Undocumented students like me cannot afford to mess up anything – we have to know exactly what we want to do with our life very early on in order to plan accordingly or else the financial cost of staying an extra year in college can burden us for the rest of our lives.

Education should be important to the Latino community because people see us as crime rate and dropout statistics. We are just a number to people and they can’t see the struggle – the blood, the sweat and tears our parents go through in order to give us a better life, an education. Education should be important to the Latino community so that we can give back to everyone that helped us achieve our dreams of getting a college degree to make something of ourselves – our parents who spend hours and days on end without breaks working in harsh conditions to bring bread to the table, our teachers who go above and beyond their duty in order to encourage us to never give up even when we’re feeling at our lowest, and our friends who are always there to support us.

Education should be important to the Latino community because we deserve a future, we deserve better because we are not just some crime rate, some “stupid illegals” or another high school dropout. We are so much more than that and we need an education to prove it not only to everyone who is against us but to ourselves and to give back to everyone who once gave to us first.

Counting the Votes

821-ivotedstickerIt’s a sentiment that becomes even more popular during election years: “I’m not going to vote.” Those who make this declaration often follow it with such reasoning as, “My vote doesn’t even count.” Now what could be the cause for such a pessimistic attitude? It is a complex and key component of our country’s presidential election process called the electoral college.

How your vote works:

When you vote for a candidate, you are actually casting a vote for a group of electors. Electors are people chosen by the political parties in each state as people who are either loyal to their party or to their party candidate. Each state gets a certain number of electors (the number of senators plus the number of state representatives). These electors make up the electoral college, and are the actual people who vote for the president. When a candidate wins the popular vote (the vote of non-electors, a.k.a. your vote) for a state, then the group of electors for their political party also win. Those electors then get to meet and vote on who they believe the president should be. The candidate who wins the majority of electoral votes becomes president.

Why your vote counts:

The election process can be quite confusing, and many people believe it to be unfair, or undemocratic. Why should the president be chosen by a small group of people who were not even elected by population, but who were appointed by political parties? Our country’s motto is E pluribus unum, “out of many, one.” At what point do the “many” get to have a say in who their leader should be? The good news is that although the outcome of the popular vote is technically not what decides the President, it does have an important role to play. For starters, many states require electors to vote for the candidate who won that state’s popular vote. This ensures that the wishes of the total voting population are not ignored.

There have only been four occurrences in U.S. history when the winner of a presidential election was not the winner of the popular vote. This is out of 56 total presidential elections. This means that the decision of voting citizens is carried through 71% of the time. It may seem crazy for that number to be anything less than 100, but according to the Library of Congress, the founding fathers had their reasons. They believed that “the use of electors would give our country a representative president, while avoiding a corruptible national election.”

Whether you agree with the electoral college voting process or not, whether you agree with the candidates or not, forgoing your vote does not make a statement. All it does is lessen the support for the causes which you believe in. It is especially important for women of color to exercise their right to vote. It was not until the signing of the 1965 Voting Rights act that minority citizens could overcome obstacles like high poll taxes and literacy tests when trying to cast their ballots. Women only won the right to vote less than 100 years ago, with the passage of the 19th amendment in 1919. Countless people throughout history have poured their blood, sweat, and tears into fights for suffrage. That “I Voted” sticker shouldn’t be taken for granted.

Beyond the Ballot:

Voting is probably the most obvious way to make your political voice heard, but activism does not have to be limited to one day every four years. You can stand up for what you believe in by volunteering on the campaign of a politician who advocates for the same causes that you do. You can utilize social media in a positive and respectful way, sharing your opinions or links to articles that inspire you (ahem) with your friends. Activism does not have to wait until you are eighteen years old, either. Volunteer opportunities are available to all, and you can always encourage parents and adult relatives to show up at the polls. Now, if you are reallyinterested in social activism, passionate about politics, then just run for public office yourself! Get that political science degree, girl, and be the change that you want to see in your community!

Are Sororities Right For Me?

Before coming to college I thought sororities were not as inclusive with Latinas. How could I, a black haired, brown eyed, tan skinned girl, who would never be caught wearing anything other than sweat pants and sneakers, fit in with a bunch of sorority girls? Plus, weren’t sororities for girls with bad grades, who liked to drink and party? Yeah, not for me. But as it turns out, sorority and fraternity life is available to people of all backgrounds. Here at the University of Texas at Austin, I got involved with Sigma Lambda Alpha Sorority Incorporated, Señoritas Latinas en Action (SLA), and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Now, for those of you chicas who are soon to be freshman and don’t quite understand what a sorority is, here’s a quick overview as described by Ball State University:

–      A group of women formed by sisterhood and common goals and aspirations;

–      Who make a commitment to each other for life;

–      Who share in their efforts, friendship and knowledge;

–      Who grow, learn, and together make the Greek Letter Organization.

These common goals shape the foundation of a sorority, but each sorority is different with a unique vibe and dynamic.

While attending Adeleante, a university sponsored event aimed to promote Latino based clubs and organizations, I was getting ready to leave when I was stopped in my tracks by loud stomping and chanting. I turned around to find a group of girls “Strolling” on stage, dancing, stepping, and yelling their hearts out as they recited their sororities goals and values. It looked like so much fun and I felt such admiration for what they stood for that I decided to stay a few more minutes. As they stepped off stage, I watched as they walked towards their booth and in a matter of seconds I was standing there, too. While the show they put on was spectacular, I realized that although they seemed like great girls they just didn’t seem like the group for me. So, again, I decided sororities weren’t for me. I was completely done, UNTIL… I was called over by a girl with blue hair, and another dressed like the next CEO of Microsoft, and another who was dressed in gym shorts and a t-shirt, like me! Speaking with them for just a few minutes felt like I had known them all my life. That day I met my sisters, my best friends, and even some of my current roommates. I soon came to find out how Latina sororities are not like white sororities. We are loud and proud of our Latina heritage. We have cookouts, we stroll, we educate others of the different cultures, we participate in events that serve our community, and, when you feel alone and far away from your loved ones, we are a second home away from home.

While being in a sorority was the best choice for some, including myself, it’s not for everyone — and that’s okay! Keep in mind that not every sorority is the same, it’s important to review your options. Pick a sorority that builds you up, and brings out the best of you. When I told my friends I wanted to join a sorority, the first thing they told me was “don’t let them change you.” However, a good sorority WILL change you. They won’t change who you are. They will change how you are for the better. In your areas of strength they will make you confident. In your areas of weakness they will provide a safe place for growth, a hand to hold when you need guidance, and continuous support throughout your journey. You can make your experience a stereotype or you can use it to build a strong foundation for your future. That is every individual’s choice.

If you do join a sorority, you are most likely to meet a group of girls that will leave a mark in your heart for a lifetime. Sisters is not a word taken lightly. And I promise you that even after you graduate. When everyone goes back home and you are miles and miles apart, there will be snapchats and groupme notifications 24/7. There will be random trips to visit each other, and there will be tons of beautiful memories and a bond so strong that can never be forgotten.

And I’m not the only one who thinks so either, Wendy Mejia, Biomedical Engineering graduate from 2015,  says: “SLA prepared me as a leader in the work force. I owe my success in my career so far to my sisterhood; holding office as president developed my leadership and management skills that are essential in a start up environment. Being in a sorority holds many negative stigmas, however, SLA is one of the best choices I made as an undergraduate. Not to mention, I found my best friend through SLA, who I never would have met other wise.”

To find out more about your school’s sororities, visit your Student Affairs office (or website) and go to back-to-school events. Most school’s host welcoming events for greek life (sororities and fraternities) alone.

What to Expect When Starting College

College: the next big step you will remember for the rest of your life. It’s different, exciting, stressful, but also beautiful. It’s where you will start learning about yourself and the world. You will discover people that are like you, experience things you never thought you would, but will also more than likely be scared during the process. Don’t worry, chica, I got you. These are the three top things I wish someone would have told me when I started college.

Peer Pressure
Movies, social media, memes, and shows portray the average college life to be full of drinking and partying, but that isn’t always the case. Yes, you will be asked to go out, and you should once in a while, but never feel like you have to. Never feel that to be accepted you need to drink and be this crazy party animal. There are many college students, including me, who prefer to stay in on a Saturday night to watch a movie while enjoying the company of friends. You will be surprised to know that the older you get, the more you prefer to have little gatherings with friends than to be this super-wild-let’s-go-out-all-the-time person. Don’t believe what movies portray. College isn’t about partying.

Classes and Social Life
When I started college I thought it was great that I only had a class twice a week. I told myself I would make straight A’s, study a couple of hours, and then head out to Chipotle with my girls. Yeah, keeping up with classes was ridiculous. College classes are completely different from high school, especially when you’re a freshman. Most of your classes will have 50 or more people, your professor might not ever know your name, and they don’t remind you when something is due. Because of these new classes and the new environment, it’s easy for freshman to lose track of time. Academic probation happens more frequently than you think. Don’t worry though; it’s not the end of world and it’s simple to fix. In order to avoid academic probation, first and foremost: stay on top of your classes! Go to class, do your homework, study, and use a planner. This planner will be your holy grail. Start by writing down the important due dates from the syllabus and calendar in your planner. Also, study groups, tutoring, and just seeing your professor during their office hours can come a long way. Your college wants to help you succeed, so take advantage of your resources. From professors to taking advantage of programs/resources, they will help you learn how to balance school work, work, and your social life.

Homesickness
In the beginning everyone is super excited to go out on his/her own and become their own person without mom or dad being in the way. Slowly, but surely, you will start to realize that you’re tired of dorm food, doing laundry on your own and even miss hearing your mom call your name from across the house. You guessed it: you’re homesick! I felt this drastically when I moved five hours away from home. I missed my mom’s home cooking, my annoying little siblings, and just the smell of my old home. This is totally normal! You’re not alone because everyone experiences this when they’re away from home for the first time. To help get over your homesickness, join a club,or a couple clubs, make it a hobby to learn your mother’s recipes, get into a new hobby, or try fun workout groups at your school’s gym. There are even clubs catered to Latinas or a specific activity (video games, music, cooking, writing, hiking, dancing, etc.). Being involved in school will help you take your mind off of being homesick — plus, you’ll be able to make more friends and have more fun!

College is scary, yes, but once you’re there and get a feel of things, you’ll feel right at home. Though there will be stress and frustrations along the road, the college experience is one you will cherish and hold sacred for the rest of your life.

APP-lying Yourself Towards a Healthier You

According to the University of Michigan’s Latina Women: Fight Against Obesity, over 71.8% of Mexican American women are overweight or obese, and  40.1% of Mexican American Women have a BMI greater than or equal to 30! A healthy BMI for young and middle aged adults is usually between 18.5 and 24.9. A big reason Latinas struggle to maintain a healthy BMI is due to low socioeconomic statuses, which forces them to buy the cheaper unhealthier foods. But let’s not lie, tambien nos encantan los tacos! Genetics also plays a big role in our weight. Not only are Latino children being fed unhealthier foods, but they are also more susceptible to being obese and having diabetes and high blood pressure.If you are looking to stay fit, a mixture of eating healthy foods and maintaining an active lifestyle. Find a routine that is best for you — no, chica, being healthy doesn’t mean running 10 miles every day.

A couple of years ago, when this chica was in high school, she underwent a 45 pound transformation with the help of various phone apps. First off, I used MyFitnessPal to track my calories. I ate everything and anything I wanted to, but I always made sure to meet my calorie goals and keep my nutrition statistics in check. On top of using apps to keep track of my calorie intake, physical activities helped me stay in shape. If I’m being honest, I owe a lot of my success to these apps. Here are a couple of free apps to check out:

en_device_iphone-bc217bccf2c1b344e81fc6e8beb50fb9MyFitnessPal
MyFitnessPal,the largest nutrition database, has over five million foods in its database. Now, don’t let this scare you; it’s super easy to use! Not only does it track your calories, it also tracks fats, carbs, vitamins and more. Plus, it can connect with over 50 fitness devices, such as fitbits, garmins and apple watches. If you don’t own any of those, you can also input your workouts manually on your phone, and it calculates your net calories for you.

Sarah Torres, who also tracks her calories on a similar app says, “I think using technology to lose weight is very convenient now a days … Everyone has some sort of smart phone and the app is easy to access unlike years back they had to actually write in a journal and actually add up all the calories on their own… now you can just scan the barcode and it does all the work for you… I think technology has made it so much easier to track and count calories than before.”

Nike Running and Nike Training Club

The Nike Running App helps you track your runs and also provides coaching for chicas that have set goals with specific distances or speeds. The cool thing about this app, is that it allows you to see the routes you have taken and the different elevations, speeds, breaks and cumulative averages in distances and speeds. It also allows for competition among friends whom have the app! So, if you are the kind of person who likes to “win, win, win no matter what,” then maybe you should consider this app the next time you find yourself in the play store.

Stephanie Garza loves apps such as these because it allows for friendly competition. “It keeps me motivated to want to do more because it also has where you can compete with other users and lets me do challenges,” she says.

Nike Training Club is different from the running app in that it works as a personal trainer. There are different 4-week programs to get lean, toned or get strong. And they are customizable depending on what it is that you are looking to achieve. Sometimes, when we are starting with our efforts towards a healthier life style, it seems like exercising is just too advanced and fast paced, but the Nike Training Club comes with instructional videos and a pause button for those who may need a quick break.

Map My Run

Like Nike Running, Map My Run tracks stats and routes, and is connectable to fitness trackers, but it is also able to connect to My Fitness Pal and can track biking, swimming,  and numerous other sports.  It allows you to create custom plans and can join competitions, but the best part is the rewards you can get for completing them! Believe it or not, with this app you are able to receive gift cards, name brand fitness apparel and tons of other goodies!

Staying healthy may be hard, but technology and determination can make it easier to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Latinas come in all shapes and size. Eres bellisima, no matter what. Make a move to be healthy because you love yourself and want to show your body some love. But don’t get lost in comparing yourself to others, because we are all different and beautiful in our own way.

Making Friends in College

Besides stressing over how to pay for college, what classes to take, and not having parents around, incoming college freshman have to worry about one more thing: friendsickness. According to the American College Personnel Association website, friendsickness is “having difficulty letting go of precollege friendships and investing in new ones.” Are you a victim of friendsickness?  If so, keep the following in mind:

For the mariposas that are flying away:

The car door closes, your million and one bags are stuffed in the trunk, and you wave goodbye to the city you have known your whole life. A whole new beginning is waiting for you as you begin your college life. However, you cannot seem to shake your memories  and, more importantly, you cannot forget your amigas. Having promised to stay in touch and never forget each other, you hope that stays true for the rest of your lives. You already know that you have friends who will always be dear to you, so go out and find friends in this whole new world, don’t be nervous.

First of all, go to all the freshman socials provided by the college, but it may be a little awkward because everyone is a little scared in this big new word. However, since all of you have this in common, find a way to break the ice and meet great people (and free food)! You’ll be spending a lot of time in the dorms, which makes it a great place to find friends. You will be around these people constantly which is a great groundwork to make new and interesting memories. Outside of the dorm, your hungry college self will surely be yearning for a bite to eat at the dining hall. You can bond with your lunch time pals over how bad (or surprisingly delicious) the food is. You can also whine about how much you miss your mom’s enchiladas.When it comes to eating you’ll want to manage your food intake, stay away from the dreaded Freshman 15. You can fix this problem by going to the rec center, it’s a great way to stay fit plus there are group workouts and activities where you can meet your new gym buddies. This also applies to joining sports around campus.

Your only interests can’t just be sleeping, eating, and exercising, and the college knows that. To connect with your interests, and with your new friends, make sure to join a lot of clubs! When you join a team that has the same interests you will surely find people that click. If you don’t find any clubs that spark your interest, join something that sounds fresh and new! Lastly, enjoy your new city by finding and making adventures with your new college friends. Guadalupe Villas, a college freshman that left home, gushes, “The best part is meeting new people and getting to see the diversity of a university out of your city.”

For the flores remaining firmly planted:

You watch all of your friends leave their homes, their families, and you behind. You go back home and snuggle in your bed knowing that you have the comfort of remaining in your hometown. Even with this comfort, you know that you will miss your friends dearly. You have a whole town that you think you know better than you know yourself, but you don’t have your pals by your side to be your shoulder to cry on, or to laugh wildly with. It’s time to make friends with the rest of your city.

Just because you’re staying home does not mean everything has to continue to be the same. You can talk to people you would never have hung out with in high school. They’ll help you see your hometown in a whole new light. Also, you’re most likely not the only friend that chose to stay.  Reconnect with these friends and continue building those friendships. Consider spending  a lot of time on campus. You’ll see a new side of town, and be sure to bump into old and new friends.  Maybe you’ll even have classes with old friends, like Melissa Rivas. Melissa, who stayed in her hometown, says, “I was lucky enough to have friends in my classes. I became really good friends with people I was only sort of close with during high school.” In order to make your home town tons of fun, stay entertained and join school clubs. You won’t feel the absence of your old friends if you keep yourself busy. Also, when you’re involved, you can bond with people that have common interests.

To keep in touch:

It proves wise and fun to visit your best friend’s campus. It’s an excuse for a road trip and nothing feels better than seeing an old friend face to face.  The second best thing to meeting someone in person is a face to face encounter through webcam, like through Skype. Schedule a Skype date with your friends! When asked how to keep in touch with friends Courtney Riddlebarger, a college junior, commented, “I had a roommate in college that was an exchange student from Finland. Now that she moved back [to Finland], we keep in touch through our weekly Skype dates on Sundays.”  Everybody is on Facebook and Twitter these days; contact your buds through Facebook (and more) to let them know you keep them in mind. A “Hey, this crazy thing happened and I thought of you!” on their wall or inbox can make a huge difference.

Perhaps you hadn’t thought that many people would care what you write about in your blog, but your friends do, especially if they don’t see you everyday. Create a blog where you and your close friends can write about your daily experiences. The blog can be about anything and everything you want to write about. When asked about how she would keep in touch, high school senior, Nadia Garcia stated, “I will probably schedule calls with them since I don’t think we’ll have time to find any other way to be a part of each other’s lives.” Besides calling, you can also text your friends, it’ll be just like they never left — except you can’t make plans to meet up at the mall later.

Melissa Rivas, a college sophomore, says, “I haven’t talked to one of my close friends since graduation day. We had known each other since middle school and now I don’t even know what city she’s in anymore.” If you don’t want this to happen, don’t break your Skype dates, don’t stop blogging, and don’t stop with the messages. If you and your friends keep on being dedicated, you’ll mold friendships that will truly last forever.

Decolonize Your Diet: Latin American Superfoods

Raw Organic Quinoa Seeds

Raw Organic Quinoa Seeds

In recent years there has been a movement towards healthy living, which includes eating a healthier diet. As more and more Latinos face health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, and different forms of cancer, it is extremely important to take care of our bodies. The easiest way to accomplish this is by changing our diet. Food blog Decolonize Your Diet teaches people the importance of eating natural food: “it is time to reclaim our cultural inheritance and wean our bodies from sugary drinks, fast food, and donuts. Cooking a pot of beans from scratch is a micro-revolutionary act that honors our ancestors and the generations to come.” So maybe we ought to think twice before we pass on the beans.

Here are 10 foods you can introduce to your diet that are not only super healthy, but can help you connect back to your ancestral roots:

Quinoa:
Quinoa has been all the craze lately, this grain is a popular substitute for rice. It is rich in nutrients and acts as a complete source of protein (something that can’t be said about other grains). Quinoa is rooted in Andes region of South America. It was one of the two significant sources of food for the Incas, the other being maiz.

Bell Peppers:
Bell peppers are full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients, which provides potential anti-cancer benefits. Bell peppers have also been found to provide 7 percent of total vitamin C intake. Bell peppers have been cultivated for over 9000 years in South and Central America. It was first “discovered” by European colonizers in the 1500-1600’s.

Chia Seeds:
Chia seeds used to be available in certain health stores, the superfood seeds have become so popular that they are now common place in restaurant menus, and grocery store isles. There are about 140 calories per two tablespoons along with omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and protein. These seeds are popular as additives in fruit smoothies and shakes since they contain all nine essential amino acids, which are essential for muscle-building. Other popular ways to eat them include sprinkling into yogurt, oatmeal, or in a salad.

Chayote:
The chayote, native to Mexico, is a member of the squash family. In fact the word chayote derives from the Nahuatl word chayotli. Chayote comes in two forms, prickly and smooth. It can be eaten raw in salads or stuffed and baked. Other preparations include mashing, pickling, frying, or boiling. The chayote contains fiber and is high on potassium and low on sodium which makes it good for supporting healthy blood pressure.

Sweet Potatoes:
Sweet potatoes are native to Central and South America and have been consumed since prehistoric times. Sweet potatoes are loaded with antioxidants and minerals, such as manganese, iron, and vitamins C,E, and D. Their high potassium content is great for lowering blood pressure because it removes excess sodium and regulates fluid balance in the body. They also help in reducing stress since they can help relax muscles and steady nerves. Sweet potatoes should be steamed or boiled when cooked to get the most nutritional benefit.

Sunflower Seeds:
Sunflower seeds make a great go-to snack and are readily available almost everywhere. These seeds are the actual seeds of the sunflower plant and have been eaten by Native Americans for over 5,000 years. They not only help get you through until your next meal but they contain high amounts vitamin E, magnesium, and  selenium which helps in preventing cardiovascular disease, maintaining healthy bone production and reducing cholesterol.

Papaya:
It is no small secret that papayas are native to Latin America. This delicious fruit was once called the “fruit of the angels” by Christopher columbus. It contains high levels of vitamin E as well as the digestive enzyme, papain, which  has been shown to help with inflammation and to improve healing from burns.

Blueberries:
Blueberries are often included in health lists for their high antioxidant values and associated health value. However, what many don’t know is that this superberry is native to North America and Native Americans used different parts of the plant for medicinal purposes.

Peanuts:
Peanuts are not actually nuts, they’re legumes (similar to peas, lentils, and other beans) and are believed to have originated in South America.  Peanuts grew as far north as Mexico when the Spanish began their exploration of the “New World.” Peanuts are rich in fat, the kind of fat you want in your body. The monounsaturated fats in peanuts are important for a healthy heart. In fact they have higher levels of antioxidants than apples or carrots, which helps reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease.

Cashews:
The cashew nuts, as you know them, are actually the seeds stuck at the bottom of the cashew apple. They belong to the same family as the mango and pistachio and are native to Brazil.The fruit is actually considered a delicacy in Brazil, and the juice of the cashew apple is considered a popular beverage. The nut itself contains many of the same benefits as peanuts, and it contains essential unsaturated fatty acids as well as monounsaturated fats that are good for your heart.