By Nick Landgren
After growing up in a place as lush and beautiful as Medellin, Colombia, senior Maria Saldarriaga is making plans for a future in the United States.
Coming from Spain as a transfer student in 2015, Saldarriaga is graduating this coming May with a major in communications & emerging media and minor in marketing, with hopes to become a PR professional.
Having visited the United States many times before her most recent move, Saldarriaga was excited to be going to an American school like the ones she had grown up in. With Miami just a three-hour flight away from her home country, she was excited to be able to see her family more often.
When back in her home country, Saldarriaga chooses to spend most of her time with her family and horses. Her family owns a horse and cattle farm in Medellin, saying that her favorite part of being home is the nature.
“In the Andes region, the hills are very steep. What I miss the most are the hills and all of the green around me,” said Saldarriaga. “I am an animal lover so I like to spend most of my time with my horses on my family’s farm.”
Colombia is a very Catholic nation, and Saldarriaga described her family as very catholic as well. During this time of year, there are a lot of holiday traditions that she would usually be a part of. With her busy schedule close to graduation, she will only get to see them for a few days over winter break.
One of Saldarriaga’s favorite things about the United States is the diversity. Back home in Medellin, everyone seems to know everyone else, and it is hard to be recognized as your own person.
“I love the diversity in the U.S. Where I come from in Colombia, it’s like a bubble, everyone knows who you are and it’s hard to get away from your last name,” said Saldarriaga. “I want to be me for who I am. I don’t want to be known for what my father or grandfather may have achieved. I want to be known for what I am achieving.”
However, one of the things she wishes she still had is her country’s food. As many international students come to find rather quickly, eating healthy in the United States can be quite difficult if not doing the cooking for themselves.
Saldarriaga has ambitions in her field as well as in her love for animals.
“I plan on working in public relations and I would love to live in the northeast, but my real dream is to start a non-profit working with animals and horses with a rescue program.”