Life in the U.S.
In Austin, Sandra attended Cedar Valley Middle School and then moved on to Westwood High School, both of which are part of the public school system. She and her sister were so excited to come to school in the US because they were excited to go to a school where they had locks on their lockers. While Sandra and her sister were initially afraid that they would fall behind in school, they actually found that school in the US was easier for them than school in Mexico. In Mexico, the tests were all open-ended questions and in the US, they used the easier format of multiple choice tests. Sandra found that the only class she had trouble in was English “because it was actually writing in English rather than just translating.” She also found that while math class was easy, she didn’t always understand what the teacher was saying, and for the first few months she couldn’t tell where the teacher was writing the homework assignments. Instead, Sandra would just flip through the book and find the topic they were studying and do the practice questions. One time, she didn’t do enough of the practice questions and her teacher scolded her for not paying attention. It was only then that Sandra realized the teacher was writing the homework on the board, but instead of writing homework, she was writing “HW.”
At the beginning, Sandra was a quiet student so she didn’t have that many friends. She recalls one person who was friendly to her and so they became friends and then she was placed in the same classes with two other people and so they became her friends as well. These friends “were enough to like go to the mall or go to the movies or do stuff outside of school,” and she is still friends with them today. After her first year in Austin, Sandra started talking more in school, but she still kept the same core group of friends. Another change for Sandra was that in Mexico she was a gymnast, but in Texas she stopped practicing so that she could focus on school and adjusting to life in the US.
Sandra’s family life in Austin with her immediate family is still pretty similar to her immediate family life in Mexico. They go running together every day except Fridays and Saturday was sushi night. They always go out to restaurants together for big occasions and after church and they watch movies together at least once a week. They have a rotation going where each member of the family gets to choose a movie to watch and the general consensus is that Sandra senior always picks the worst movies. The movies are always in Spanish or at least have Spanish subtitles or else the Gonzalez parents will not pay attention. They also rotate cooking meals so that each member of the family get to cook for everyone else, but Sandra and Carina are both bad cooks so the parents end up doing most of the cooking anyway. Vladimir likes to cook raw seafood dishes, which Sandra senior hates, so then she cooks something else. Sandra will always eat what her dad cooks while Carina will eat what her mom cooks. Generally Sunday is “family time” and that is when they go to church together, watch movies, and eat out. Sometimes they even go play golf, although Vladimir is the only one who is good at golf. Almost every night, the Gonzalez family tries to have family dinner, but if that is not possible, the weekend is the time when they get together and catch up on the news of the week. Overall, the Gonzalez family is very tightly-knit and they even have their own bbm group together.
Although Sandra’s parents plan on eventually returning to Mexico and living on a ranch, they understand that their daughters are most likely going to remain in the US.