Tagged: Guam

Tales of a Transplant: Family I never knew existed

By Ryan Galindo, Staff Writer

Husky meme

My reaction when my parents told me about family members I never knew I had. PHOTO COURTESY ICANHASCHEEZBURGER.COM


I grew up thinking I had family that lived in the Philippines, Guam, Orlando, Fla. and Los Angeles. Nothing more, nothing less. And I believed that for 18 years.

When the time came for my me and my parents to decide where I would be going for college, I sat them down in our living room. I had applied to colleges all over the U.S. and was fortunate enough to be accepted to most of them. It was a surprise when my parents started listing off names of family members I never knew existed that lived nearby certain universities I was accepted to. The conversation went something like this:

Parents: Oh, Seattle University? You have cousins that live there.

Me: Huh?

Parents: You have an aunt that lives in New Jersey.

Me: Seriously?

Parents: NYU and Fordham? We have family in New York.

Me: Oh my goodness!

Parents: Chaminad University? We have family in Honolulu, too.

Me: Wait—what?

I was dumbfounded.

Nonetheless, as confused as I was at this sudden revelation of our extended family tree, I was all the more excited to go to college. Yes, I’d have somewhere to stay during breaks, I thought to myself.

Thanksgiving weekend was the first opportunity I had to stay with my new found family. They live in a town outside Newark, N.J., so I took the bus from Boston to Newark Penn Station. It was a slow bus ride, prolonged by the holiday traffic and made longer by the anticipation I felt. I was going to meet these family members for the first time. All I knew was that my dad and the woman I was meeting were cousins, and that she and her husband had three children, all around my age.

When I got to Penn Station, I nervously stood in the cold waiting for them to pick me up. I was looking for a turquoise Nissan Altima, according to my new second cousin. Once it pulled up to the pick-up area, I saw my cousins waving out the window, smiling. And with that, all my anxiety was erased. They seem like nice people, I thought.

And I was right. From there we hit off pretty well. We have similar tastes in music and hobbies, and we like to eat, as demonstrated by our appetite during Thanksgiving dinner. Apparently, they didn’t know of my existence either. My dad’s cousin (their mother) had only informed them just recently. So that became another thing we had in common.

Like every person who’s never been to Guam, they asked me what Guam was like and how I like BU. In return, I asked the similar questions about New Jersey and their schools.

There was never a dull moment during the weekend.  We went out every day, whether it was to go Black Friday shopping or going to New York City for the first time—which, by the way, was AMAZING. I’ve always wanted to visit the city, and now I can check that off my bucket list.


A photo of me and my family in Times Square, on the right side of the billboard. A Google Chrome promo used a webcam to take a photo of us and posted it to a billboard.  RYAN GALINDO/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

It was quite depressing when I had to go. I knew I’d miss them badly. But I’ve already made plans to return for spring break, so it wasn’t all that bad.

So this Thanksgiving, I was thankful for the five seemingly new family members I gained, who took me in and made me feel as loved and appreciated as if I’d known them my whole life. Surely, lots of people have relatives, however distant, they’ve never met. Go meet yours.


Tales of a Transplant: Snow dreams

By Ryan Galindo, Staff Writer

My obsession with snow began when I was very young. I always thought snow was essential to the Christmas season. Like, it just isn’t Christmas if there isn’t any snow. I remember my earliest Christmas memory. I waited and waited for it to snow. Screw Santa—I just wanted snow. But when Christmas flew by without a single snowflake, I was left disappointed.

Of course, now that I’m older I know better. But that yearning for snow never left, and experiencing four seasons was one of the top reasons why I chose to move to New England. Like I’ve said, Guam is sweltering hot, and I just wanted a change of scene. But deep inside, I wanted to play in the snow.

When I confirmed my enrollment to Boston University, I was so excited partly because I knew that I would get to experience that cold, icy, powdery substance people call snow in a matter of months. I wanted be in a snowball fight, make snow angels and build a snowman.

As you all know—and if you don’t, let me remind you—Nov. 7 marked Boston’s first snowfall of the season. Yes, I have that engraved in my memory because it was the first time I had ever experienced snow.

Boston snowfall

The season’s first snowfall leaves cars in a blanket of white / PHOTO CREDIT RYAN GALINDO

I was at my job at 100 Bay State Rd. I walked to work that day and it the rain was pouring. It was super freezing. Little did I know that those clouds pelting me with icy water would soon drop snowflakes and give me what I’ve been waiting for so long to try: snow. At 5 p.m., I looked outside the window and saw that everything was covered in white. It was amazing and I was in disbelief. Snow, really? Wow. I couldn’t wait to get off work that day. My body couldn’t contain my excitement.

When I got off of work at 6 p.m., I went out with my friend to take my first step out into the cold. It was a glorious moment, touching snow. It feels so soft. I can still hear the crunching of snow under my shoes. And I can still feel the numbness of my face as the hostile winds pelted snowflakes in my direction.

That night I threw my first snowball and had my first snowball fight. I was so enthused that I forgot to make snow angels and build snowmen. I also slipped on my butt a couple of times. Okay, so maybe it was a lot of times. But it was all good.

And call me crazy, but that evening I walked all the way from 100 Bay State Rd. to my dorm in West Campus. I still can’t believe I did that and neither do my friends:

Boston snowfall

Boston’s first snowfall of the season / PHOTO CREDIT RYAN GALINDO

“You walked all the way there?! And you’re from GUAM?!”

Despite the fun I was having in the snow, the biting cold finally got to me, so I called it a day and went to bed, excited for more snow adventures the next day.

But wow, was I wrong. Everything started to melt the following day. I mean, who would want to play in wet slush? No way am I making snow angels in that. And now, I look outside my window and see that everything is dry. It’s as if the Nor’easter didn’t happen at all.

What a tease. Oh well. I guess I can hold building snowmen and making snow angels until the next snowfall. After all, I did wait several years for my first. What’s a few more weeks?

Tales of a Transplant: Sandy, please

By Ryan Galindo, Staff Writer

Living in Guam does have its pros and cons. One con: Guam is situated in an area of the Pacific called “Typhoon Alley.” As you may already have guessed, typhoons (a fancy, exotic word for hurricane) pop up regularly and somehow decide to make Guam a part of their blood path.

Typhoon, Guam

Downed power lines in Guam during Ponsoonga Typhoon / PHOTO COURTESY RODGER SPRINGSTEEN

I’ve had my share of typhoons in my 18 years of life. The first one was good ol’ Typhoon Paka in 1997. I was only three-years-old, and I barely remember the details of the disaster. I do recall a few vague, cloudy snippets of the storm: the power outages, the fallen trees and my mom trying to put me to sleep against the backdrop of the pouring rain and howling, Category 5 winds. Like I said, I don’t remember much, but I knew it was bad, so bad that Paka was even upgraded to Super Typhoon status and the name “Paka” was retired from the list of hurricane names. I didn’t even know that was remotely possible.

In 2002, we had Super Typhoon Chata’an. In Chamorro, the native language of Guam, Chata’an means “rainy day.” And boy was that day rainy. Hell, it was a torrential downpour. I don’t remember much of Chata’an except that it ruined my summer.

A year and a half later, in December 2003, we had Super Typhoon Pongsona (pronounced PONG-SONG-WAH). Pongsona was nothing short of a bitch. It flooded streets and downed power and telephone poles. Guam was devastated. Oh, and Ponsonga had the audacity to prance its way into Guam a few weeks before Christmas. The nerve.

We didn’t have electricity for almost a month, if not more. It was a really big deal, actually, so big that the daily newspaper had a little box on the front page detailing how much of the island had its power back and which part of the island the power company was working to repair next. With each passing day, the percentage enclosed in the box increased: 12 percent, 20 percent, 45 percent and eventually 100 percent. Luckily, my neck of the woods was one of the first to have electricity reinstalled, so that was great.

Water was also a problem. If I remember correctly (I’m writing this all from memory okay, so if any of you Guamies notice anything wrong, forgive me), there was a water outage, too. And if you did have water, it was probably unsafe to drink it.

Ponsonga is the last typhoon I can recall because it was so catastrophic. If there were any other typhoons after it, they were probably too tame compared to Ponsonga to be worth remembering.

Guam has been typhoon-free for several years. And that is why I find it ironic that once I leave Guam and move to Boston, I get struck by Hurricane Sandy.

Last night, I was chatting with a friend from Guam that now attends school in Portland, Ore. Of course, Sandy made its way to the conversation and my friend told me not to worry, because I’m from Guam and therefore typhoon-proof.

Paka Typhoon

Damage to a home in Guam during the Paka Typhoon, Dec. 17, 1997 / PHOTO COURTESY PETTY OFFICER 3RD CLASS HEATHER EGHBALI, U.S. NAVY

In retrospect, I guess I am. This is the plus side of living in typhoon alley. Almost instinctively upon hearing about Sandy, I began to gather all the essentials in case of a disaster. I got my cereal and other snacks tucked in my shelf along with a couple of toiletries. I’ve been keeping track of Sandy and any pertinent news relating to school and the T.

It’s actually quite amusing to hear my friends from California and other parts of the hurricane-free world panic about the storm, and I’m just calm and nonchalant about it.

In the end, I’m very grateful that sunlight is starting to seep its way into Boston and that Sandy is starting to become a memory. My thoughts go out to those who have been ravaged by her. I’ve been there before, and it’ll soon pass.

Tales of a Transplant: Adapting to New England weather

By Ryan Galindo, Staff Writer

Let’s talk about the weather, shall we?

In Guam, many residents have commented that the weather is invariably sporadic. You’ll have sun one day, rain the other and, more often than not, sun AND rain. I’m not kidding. I’m not quite sure if it happens in other parts of the world, but when it rains on a clear, nearly cloudless day, I start to question the laws of nature.

But with temperatures ranging from 75 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit everyday and with humidity always above 80 percent, I can always step out of my front door wearing shorts, a t-shirt and flip-flops.

Then I came to Boston. Oh, Boston. I’m still learning to adapt to your hormonal climate.

I’ve made the common newcomer mistake of failing to check the weather report before I leave Claflin Hall. When I went out last Friday night with a couple of friends, I wore jeans, a t-shirt and a hoodie. And of course they wore multiple layers, scarves and either a jacket or coat. I looked misplaced. I checked the temperature for the evening and saw that it was 40 degrees. Stupid me.

Guam Bear

Guam Bear?

So, as we were walking down the streets of Boston, I was getting a beat-down by the frosty wind and nasty temperature. I was shivering and my face was going to freeze. I was getting laughed at by my friends who tried their best to keep me warm by huddling around me. Love them.I earned a nickname that night: “Guam Bear,” because my hoodie made me look like a koala. There are no koalas nor bears in Guam, just to let you know.

After that night, I went straight to work on my fall/winter wardrobe. I’ve done some research and found advice from people who know how it’s like to live with this weather. Here are a couple of tips to keep you warm this season:

Layers, layers, layers

This is crucial to your warmth. Employing layers creates pockets of air between your clothes that will insulate your body. Wear as many layers as you feel comfortable, but there are three important things to remember when layering: wicking, insulation and protection.

Yes, it’s cold. But that doesn’t mean you won’t sweat. Find clothes that wick moisture off your body so that you will continue to feel dry and warm. With that in mind, this layer should be closest to your skin.

Boston-weather-forecastInsulators are pretty much self-explanatory: they keep you even warmer. Wear a shirt over the wicking layer, add a sweater over it and maybe a jacket on top of that. Wear sweatpants under your jeans. The point is to get toasty.

Last but not the least is the protective layer. This layer will guard you from rain, wind and snow. Coats and waterproof jackets are ideal for this layer.

One good thing about layers is that you can adjust them throughout the day. Oh, it stopped raining? Time to take off the raincoat. It’s hotter now? Time to remove a layer or two.

Don’t forget your limbs

A majority of your body heat escapes through your head, or so I’m told, so it’s important to keep it covered and warm. Beanies, knit caps and a trooper hat will work just fine.

Scarves are a great way to keep your neck warm and protected from the wind and they can be stylish, too.

Wearing gloves or mittens if your hands get cold easily is a great idea, too. Don’t forget your feet. Layer up on those socks, and remember, find socks that have wicking power.

Check the weather

I’m still learning to remember to do this. Before you decide your outfit of the day, take a look at the weather. It can be the difference between shivering like a wet cat and feeling warm and comfortable on a nice evening out in the city.

Well, that’s all I have for now. Maybe I’ll come up with more tips as the season progresses and it gets even colder. Until then, stay warm and dry.

Why we chose BU over a public school

By Ryan Galindo, @rygalindo, Staff Writer

A little more than a year ago, I began my college application odyssey. I was deeply intent of leaving my small island home of Guam for a bigger and more bustling location. Being the indecisive adolescent that I was (and still am), I applied to a whopping 12 colleges, all scattered around the country. I had applied to schools in Washington, Hawaii, Oregon, California, New York and the great state of Massachusetts.

Guam is so far away and almost virtually unknown that sometimes people regard it as another country. It took 24 hours of transportation to get to this city. Imagine the jet lag I was subjected to. Some people have no idea where Guam is or that it even existed. I’ve even gotten asked,

“Is that a band?”

As much as I love Guam, I had the urge to experience a new environment, so I chose not to apply to any colleges on the island. I wanted to go off-island, out-of-state. Of course, a change of scene wasn’t the only factor that drew me to Boston University. Academics, diversity, financial aid and student life came into play as well.

Of the 12 schools I applied, four of them were public universities. The rest were private. Despite applying for financial aid, I received an inadequate amount of aid from the public schools I was accepted to. I knew that taking loans was indeed a possibility, but I didn’t want to rack up nearly 30 thousand dollars of loans my freshman year. With that in mind, I crossed off all public universities from my list.

Of the private schools I was accepted to, BU gave me financial aid that was the most feasible for my me and my parents. That, combined with BU’s academics, endless activities and diversity, were enough for me to commit to BU.

But that’s just my take on things. I’m only one of the 3,900 students in the class of 2016. So, I went around and talked to my fellow classmates to see what made them choose this school over others.

College of Arts and Sciences freshman Jordie Forstot hails from New Jersey. Forstot only applied to one in-state school and the rest out-of-state. She said a university’s status as public or private should not matter. Instead, she said what the school can offer matters most.

“Attending a private or public university does not make a difference for me,” she said. “I just want to be happy academically and socially, and I think that can happen for anyone at either a public or private university.”

However, Forstot said she’d prefer an out-of-state university because being farther away from her family will give her more independence and “reduce the ability to go home on a whim.”

Like Forstot, CAS freshman Katrina Uy also preferred out-of-state universities over in-state.

“When I was applying to colleges, location was one of the most influential factors on my decision,” Uy said.

Uy, a Connecticut native, said she chose BU for the opportunities the school and the city can provide her as opposed to a university set in a rural location “basically in the middle of nowhere.”

“Even though I think people should definitely take a school’s academics into consideration, I also think that they should really take some time to think about the place they’ll be living in for the next 4 years.”

Unlike the other two, CAS freshman Melanie Chin a Massachusetts native.

“One of the pros of attending a school not-so-far from home is that I can choose to hop onto the red line for a home-cooked dinner if I want,” she said.

Chin hails from Quincy, a mere eight miles from BU.

“There’s an incredible amount of colleges within Boston, and considering the proximity of my hometown to here, I have more than just a few friends that I can visit too.”

However, a huge downside to living so close to home could be a “possible surprise visit from parents,” she said.

She said values the close-knit community that BU offers her and regrets nothing about her decision to attend a private university “except for the tuition bill.”