Home Away from Home Blog #1

Welcome, students! Some of you may be freshmen straight out of high school, seniors looking forward to (or dreading?) the world of jobs and mortgages, or even graduate students buying some time/perfecting your skills as you wait with baited breath for the economy to take a turn for the better.

Regardless of your standing at UM, if you’re reading this you’re probably familiar with the concept of leaving the nest and finding yourself smack dab in the middle of what you now call “your new home.”

I’m sure some of you are experienced expatriates while others have left their home state for the sunshine and UM for the very first time. Perhaps some of you are adjusting to living in a dorm, while others just moved into their first “roommate-free” zone and nabbed an apartment. Whatever the case, finding your ground in unfamiliar territory has probably had its ups and its downs, and that’s why I’m here. Greetings.

Considering oneself to be an expert in anything takes some gusto – what and who actually determines if you’re an authority on a subject matter? I may not be able to answer those questions exactly, but I do know that having lived in five countries, six cities, two continents, and having attended seven schools since I was 8-years-old. I am pretty well-versed in the trials and tribulations of moving. I can also pack like it’s nobody’s business.

Born in Pittsburgh, PA, to an American mother and Spanish father, my family moved to Holland when I was 8-years-old for my father’s job in fiberglass. Prior to that, to me, leaving home meant packing an over-night bag and walking two doors down the street to my best friend Lizzi’s house for a sleepover, all the while knowing I could be back in the comforts of my own home with a quick phone call. That concept seems ridiculously foreign, and quite frankly impossible, to me now.

My family lived in Holland for five years, from 1993-1998, before my father was relocated again to Paris, France. As a self-admitted awkward 13-year-old who felt like she just began to feel at home in Holland, the thought of moving again terrified me. Clearly, I survived.

Suffice it to say, living in Paris from the age of 13 to 18 was beyond amazing. Attending high school at The American School of Paris, I quickly found my niche being surrounded by other expatriates who still, to this day, cannot answer the question “where are you from?” But as we all know, good things come to an end, and when I graduated high school, I packed my belongings again and moved to Montreal, Canada to attend McGill University for a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology.

Those who know me probably have heard me speak about Montreal as my “favorite place in the world.” I stand by that. In all my travels I have never found a place that I felt more comfortable, happy, and complete. It’s my city, and I’d move back tomorrow if the opportunity presented itself. Which probably explains why, due to my nearly obsessive Montreal-story-telling, people tend to mistake my origins and label me Canadian. I’m fine with that.

After four years in Montreal living the college life, I packed my things once again (not really by choice, but rather because my student-visa had expired at completion of my degree), and I moved to Miami for a year and a half of “figuring out what I wanted to do.” Somehow, that process led to me moving to Geneva, Switzerland in November, 2008 to start a Master’s degree in Counseling at Webster, University. I was there for six months and despite the fact that Geneva was wonderful and I was happy to be living back in Europe again, the program wasn’t what I was looking for, and so my fiancée and I returned to Miami in July, 2009, where he had a job lined up. So here I am – back in Miami. For now. This certainly isn’t my final stop in life, but while I’m here I’m pursuing a Master’s in Print Journalism here at UM.

Ok, enough about me. The purpose of this blog is to get to know YOU. Students at UM who have stories to tell, questions to ask, topics to discuss. This is the place to express the ups and downs of moving—whether you moved to Florida from out of state, out of country, or even just moved from your parents house to an on campus dorm. Funny moments, sad moments, and everything in between—this is the place to share it all. Leave a comment (include your name or leave it anonymously, whichever you prefer) and start a discussion with other students and then check back to see if your topic or question is addressed in the blog!

Until then, it’s nice to “meet” you all and I look forward to hearing your stories!


Ali may be contacted at aagudo@themiamihurricane.com.