By Katelyn Billings
Most people have never been out of their home country, but Juan Berroteran ‘16 has lived in both Venezuela and Germany.
Born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, he did not visit the United States until he was six years old.
He explained that life in Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, is much different than life in America.
There are significant amounts of crime in the outskirts of the city, and the economy is politically unstable. “If I would go out with friends late at night my parents would stay up worrying about me being killed or kidnapped or something,” he said.
The social and educational scenes in Venezuela are also much different from the U.S., since in Venezuela, the younger generations are more interested in having fun and relaxing.
Juan explained that his interest in coming to America stemmed from his unique international schooling, where he had instructors from Canada and the U.K.
In Venezuela, the overall education system is very poor, so Juan studied at a private institution that prepared him for life here at Union.
“It’s a very privileged education. There were two international schools in my city, and there are only five or six in the whole country. The universities are better, but you don’t learn languages other than Spanish. Here, in America, they try to teach you languages in high school, which is good, but in Venezuela you don’t get that,” he said.
After living in Germany, coming to school in New York was a big change.
For Juan, the biggest differences were in the attitudes of the people he met, the types of food and the culture.
He explained that he felt most people he encountered were not very interested in the countries and civilizations outside of America, and that they were content with their own culture. “You have everything, America is a capitalist country. You bring things in, send things out; you don’t really need to travel to find things you need. But you need to travel to expand your mind and be more open,” he said.
Juan wanted to come to school in America in order to make something of himself, which he believes he would not be able to do with the limited opportunities in Venezuela.
He hopes to stay in America to attend graduate school, and maybe start a small business back home in Venezuela where there are many opportunities to give back to the community.
Juan’s major complaint about America? The food. “I miss the food back home, here it’s fattening, there’s so much fast food everywhere!”
Juan hopes his experiences in America will open doors for his professional life in his future.