‘From Boyle Heights to College’ is an occasional series written by former Boyle Heights Beat youth reporters about the challenges and successes during their first college experience. Stay tuned for more!
It’s been a couple of weeks since I left my home in East Los Angeles to study at the University of Redlands. So far, I’ve enjoyed everything Redlands has to offer, but I often find myself reminiscing about growing up in Boyle Heights.
Life in Redlands is very different than life back home. I have to motivate myself to attend orientation events and practices. My schedule was my only reminder. I’ve met a variety of people – I know somebody from Massachusetts, Nevada, and Oregon. People I’ve never met before start conversations with me simply by passing by. The environment in my dorm is always full of motion and noise. It’s going take a while to get used to all of it, but I’m working on it.
The city of Redlands itself is really nice. There are a lot of trees and orange groves in the area. It’s full of many big-box chain stores, yet it feels like a small town where the people are friendly and the buildings are old-fashioned. Despite its appearance, there is a lot of activity and events around town. I’m looking forward to learning more about the town I will live in these next four years.
In terms of classes, I got everything I wanted. In addition to French 1, Calculus III, and Computer Science, I have a “First Year Seminar,” which is basically an introductory course to the university (with a specific flavor). My First Year Seminar is based on “Authentic Leadership,” which basically goes over what it means to be a leader and how to step up when one is needed. The professor is really nice (she bought us pizza!) and I’m looking forward to the class this semester.
Despite my comfort here at Redlands, I still miss Boyle Heights. I don’t know if it was its strong cultural connection or how its people shared similar backgrounds, but I’ve always had the urge to head back. I miss walking to El Mercadito for nieve de limon and churros, getting on the 68 bus towards Soto Street, and watching the ducks run around at Hollenbeck Park. However, I’m confident that once I do return to Boyle Heights, I will return a stronger, smarter, and more ambitious citizen, ready to fix the problems that my community may face.