Two and-a-half years ago I quit my job in telecommunications in El Paso, Texas and moved to New York. My love for fashion and the city was enticing, so determined to pursue a career in fashion journalism I took a chance and made the move. When I arrived I didn’t have a job and there were times when I felt frustrated, but now that I think back, I realized I was super lucky to not experience culture shock thanks to a couple of people and serendipitous coincidences.
What I feared most was being lonely and homesick. Besides studying abroad for a semester, I’ve only ever known El Paso. Everywhere I went I bumped into familiar faces and my weekends were always booked in my social agenda. I knew I would especially miss my bi-weekly ladies nights and feared I wouldn’t ever have that again. What if I couldn’t make any friends or what if my social life sucked? I tried not to focus too much on my fears because otherwise I’d freak out.
Luckily things didn’t turn out this way. I was fortunate enough to have moved in with my boyfriend’s sister. Together we rented an apartment and she introduced me to others who also happened to be from the El Paso, T.X. /Juarez, Mexico border. Meeting others from home was instantly comforting. Never did I think there would be so many people with whom I could culturally and socially relate to in New York!
I immediately became part of their group. And because most of them had been in New York much longer than myself, they were able to introduce me and guide me through their favorite spots in the city. I almost felt like a kid that was being taken by the hand and showed around.
Thanks to them I joined a Facebook group called Mexicanos en NYC — which is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a group of Mexicans who share posts to promote their business or articles on others doing amazing things in the city, search for roommates, and even sell home decor and furniture — in other words it’s a Mexican Craigslist.
Some friends have moved back home while others have moved from home. Not a month goes by that we don’t celebrate someone’s birthday and brunch on the weekends is a must. Not to mention our daily chats. Our Whatsapp group is the most active group I’ve ever had! You would think none of us have a job because it’s constantly one conversation after another all day long.
My Juarez/El Paso peeps have also put me onto authentic Mexican restaurants because as you can imagine, this El Paso chick is super pick about her Mexican food. Places like Papatzul in Soho and Maya in Upper East Side have become some of my favorite go-to spots for authentic Mexican. Growing up I was spoiled with my grandmother’s homemade albondigas and delicious chiles rellenos. But the one dish I haven’t been able to find is a Mexican style shrimp cocktail which actually looks like a cocktail with cucumber, celery, avocado, tomato juice, red onions, and lots of shrimp. Last time I ordered one I got a tray of shrimp with a cocktail sauce and boy was I disappointed.
One of the most annoying adjustments for me was getting used to the price of Mexican food in New York because often times the price of a single taco is almost as much as an order of tacos back home. You can easily get an entire meal for no more than $8. That’s barely enough to get me two tacos in New York!
I’ve never regretted my decision to move but it’s during those cold weather months that I miss El Paso most. The Texas girl in me is still used to the sunny weather and having to walk everywhere in freezing temperatures is not as simple as when I used to jump in my car and turn on the heat. But like everything else I’ve learned to live with it and with that I’ve been able to adapt and have what I call my own little El Paso/ Mexico in New York.
I have to admit my return to the city was difficult the first few visits home because El Paso is just that, it’s home, and it was hard to leave my friends and family every time. But when I come back to New York I’m reminded of why I moved here, how much I love being part of this amazing city, and how lucky I am to be doing what I’ve always wanted to do.