No Longer Daddy’s Girl: Breaking Free

June 3, 2015
No Longer Daddy's Girl: Breaking Free and Studying Abroad

I’ve been a wanderer for as long as I can remember. The youngest of three girls, I was the free-spirited one. Since I was a kid I used to spend hours on the internet looking for international summer camps, somewhere I could travel and meet people from different countries. I even chose my major with the goal of becoming a journalist and traveling the world, writing about different cultures.

This interest was encouraged by my parents. My mom is a history and books lover with whom I’ve always shared the passion for culture, and my dad is a Navy veteran who traveled the world during his youth. Before going to college I even took the AP tests so that I could study abroad as soon as possible, with some credits under my belt. It all seemed so promising.

I was tired of asking my parents for permission to do things, of not having the means to realize my dream, of not doing things by myself and of living a life that wasn’t right for me.

But starting college comes with inevitable changes: new friends, new interests, relationships, jobs, and a long list of responsibilities. For me, almost everything was relatively easy: I didn’t have to move away because my university was only a ten-minute drive far from my home; most of my friends from high school would be attending, too; my mom works at the university and would be able to help me out if necessary; my academic year was low-cost because I arrived with college credit; and as soon as I started classes, I got a job as an assistant student in the university library. I didn’t live with luxuries and I didn’t have tons of money to do as I pleased, but I didn’t have monetary responsibilities, so all in all, I could study and enjoy of the money I earned.

This was great during my first year. But then my desire for freedom and independence kicked in. Suddenly I couldn’t stand living at home and not being able to do the things I wanted to. I had planned to study abroad during my sophomore year, and when I realized I didn’t had the money to do so, frustration started to take over. I was tired of asking my parents for permission to do things, of not having the means to realize my dream, of not doing things by myself and of living a life that wasn’t right for me.

The years passed, and yet, nothing changed. I was constantly searching for study abroad and internship programs, but could never afford them, and my parents didn’t seem on board with me going away, anyway. Somehow their encouragement for my dreams existed only in theory. I felt like they didn’t believe in me, and I didn’t know how to stop them from seeing me as “daddy’s little girl.”

No Longer Daddy’s Girl: Breaking Free

When senior year arrived and I had to decline my dream study abroad program in China because it was too expensive, I knew that it was my last chance to study abroad. I knew I had to do everything on my own to make it happen. I decided to extend my bachelor’s degree for one more year, I got a second job and I started the process. Within a week, I put the necessary paperwork together and I submitted my application for a semester in Spain. When I told my parents, they didn’t think I’d go through with it, but I told them everything was done and that I was ready to buy my plane ticket.

With only four months to go before heading to Madrid, I studied and worked nonstop. I could see my parents were beginning to look at me differently. When the day of my flight finally arrived and they said goodbye to their little girl, I could see that their faces were filled with pride.

No Longer Daddy's Girl: Breaking Free and Studying Abroad
While speaking to me in Madrid, they realized that I was capable of being on my own. Then, when they visited me in my new environment, they saw that I was in charge of my whole life and confident about it. I was their tour guide and travel agent. They finally saw me as an independent adult. But it wasn’t just that they realized it; I did too.  Not only did I make my dream come true, I exceeded my own expectations of what I could do.  The experience taught me  to stop being so self-conscious of how my parents see me, and instead to show them the person I’ve become.

About Valeria Vázquez

Valeria is a senior student in Communication and Cooperative Entrepreneurship from Puerto Rico. She’s a freelance writer, creator of the website Paladar VOV about vegan living, and is passionate about environmental sustaintability, animal rights and the fight against women’s oppression.

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