Tagged: Tales of a Transplant

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: Road trip

By Ryan Galindo, Staff Writer

I’d never been on a road trip before, unless you consider driving from one end of Guam to the other in roughly one hour a road trip.

This past weekend, I went to Washington, D.C. I was nothing short of excited to go on this trip, being that it was my first time venturing out of Boston and Massachusetts and state-hopping until I arrived at the nation’s capital.

The trip wasn’t for leisure, though; it was mostly business… sort of. The Boston University Filipino Student Association went to attend an annual event where a bunch of other collegiate Filipino clubs from several universities in New England came together and discuss our culture. This year, it happened to take place at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., which is just minutes from D.C.

Union Station

American flags ripple in the wind outside Union Station / PHOTO CREDIT RYAN GALINDO

The thought of the trip was thrilling, but the length of travel, not so much. After having spent 24 hours traveling from Guam to Boston, where I had to sit and stay put on a claustrophobia-inducing plane for eight hours TWICE, I was not looking forward to the 10-hour bus ride to D.C.

Excuse my whining. Now, let’s get to the sappy stuff.

Union Station


We left Boston on a Friday evening and arrived at D.C. the following morning. When I took my first step outside Union Station, I proceeded to indulge myself with a long, panoramic gaze of the city. And it was beautiful. The sight of Columbus Circle with its massive sculptures, fountain and flags of every state was a nice sight that welcomed me to the nation’s capital.

But again, we weren’t there to sight-see but to attend a convention. As much as I wanted to take a tour of the capital, the

convention took precedence. The cab ride to Fairfax, Va. was the closest thing to a tour that I got. I saw the Capitol, the Lincoln Monument and the Washington Monument on the way to GMU, albeit from a distance—a very, very far distance. The Washington Monument looks bigger in person than in picture, I might add.

I’d write about the convention, but I’d be going off tangent, so I’ll continue with the ride back to Boston.

We left D.C. on a Sunday morning with the plan to return to Boston by 9 p.m. Because the trip to D.C. was during the evening, I couldn’t get to enjoy the sights since it was dark out. So, on the way back, I was pretty hyped for the trip back because I could actually see what’s out there.

New York City skyline

The sun sets on the New York City skyline / PHOTO CREDIT RYAN GALINDO

Although I had an extreme bout of motion sickness and soreness from sitting too long, the different scenes of New England made it that much bearable and worth it. I mean, I got to see the New York City skyline for the first time in person—like it was actually a couple of miles away from me. I’ve always dreamt about visiting the city that never sleeps. Before the trip, I’d only seen the city in pictures and on television and had experienced it vicariously through my friends that visited it. It was almost surreal, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. I am always in a state of disbelief when I see or experience something so unlike Guam. Seeing the skyline reminded me that I wasn’t in the middle of the Pacific anymore.

As was planned, we arrived back in Boston around 9 p.m. When I got back to my sweet dorm, I couldn’t help but crashing on my bed and sleeping like a baby because my mind and body were tired and sore from all the traveling.

But I would go through it all again for another road trip experience.

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: Homesickness

By Ryan Galindo, Staff Writer


Home sweet home / PHOTO BY RYAN GALINDO


What comes to mind when you hear that word? I see my family and friends, my room, beaches and palm trees. I could go on forever, but that’ll only make my bout of homesickness worse.

When I arrived in Boston, I thought this city was nothing short of amazing (and I still do). I guess when you’re just so enamored by new sights and experiences, you get momentarily distracted by what you’re leaving behind. When my mom left Boston for Guam after helping me get settled, I felt no pain or anxiety. I know. It sounds bad, but I see it as a sign of reassurance, a sign that I’m going to do quite well with my time and independence here in Boston.

It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I began to feel homesick. I soon grew tired of the dining hall food and the repetitiveness of my work schedule, and I was overwhelmed with school in general. Oh, and I was COLD.

I wanted to go home, and I somewhat still feel the same way right now. As much as I love this city, it will never replace my home back in Guam. I’m not an expert, but I believe the root of homesickness is the fact we’re missing certain aspects of home that we can’t replace in college. You’re not going to find family or your Mom’s mouthwatering fried chicken in this city, unless you grew up here, of course. The best advice I can give to palliate homesickness is to find distractions and near-replacements for home.

Remind yourself why you’re here

What brought you to Boston University? Ask yourself that question and when you find the answer, pursue it! Sometimes in the midst of all the work we’re given and the many distractions that seep their way into our lives, we tend to forget our primary reasons for being here. So, remind yourself why you came here in the first place. Take yourself back to that moment you got your acceptance letter in the mail and thought about all the cool things you were going to do here. Now do it.

College care package

My care package sent from home / PHOTO BY RYAN GALINDO

Join a club

Affiliating yourself with a club can give you a clearer sense of identity and will provide you with plenty distractions. Boston

University, being the diverse institution that it is, has a ton of multicultural clubs that you can join and that’ll make you feel at home. I’m Filipino, so if it wasn’t for the Filipino Students Association, I would probably not have met a lot of my friends at BU or gotten my quick fix of Filipino cuisine.

Of course, clubs aren’t limited to your ethnicity. There are several other clubs open for you, such as sports, community service and academic societies.

Ask for a care package

Considering that we’re nearing the end of October, I’m assuming your family or friends back home should have already sent you a care package. If they haven’t done so yet, ask them to send you one (or more)! Make a list of all your favorite foods and comfort objects that you can’t get in the city. Ask your grandma to send you a batch of her famous cookies. Tell your parents to send you that stuffed toy that wouldn’t fit in your luggage or your favorite books that you want to reread. Try to recreate home as much as you possibly can.

Downtown Boston


Get out of your dorm

The city is your playground. You literally can’t count the amount of things to do in the city. Get out and do something. Pick up a new sport. Go on a tour. Go shopping. Go to the aquarium. Do homework at a park. Try not to stay in cooped up in your room all day. That place is meant for sleeping.

Call home regularly

You should be doing this already. There isn’t a valid reason why you shouldn’t be calling home. If you miss your family, chances are that they miss you, too. Do your parents a favor a call them just to check in with them. Let them know how your week’s been going and ask them how theirs has been as well. Just because you’re in college does not mean you have to sever contact with your family. It’s completely okay to call home.

I would also tell you to visit home if it’s feasible for you. If you’re extremely homesick, then I suggest you do it. But try not to go every weekend. That goes against one of the best parts of being a college student, which is to find your independence.

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.