Estefania Cruz-Casillo Visits Family in Puerto Rico


Estefania Cruz-Casillo poses with her grandma in Puerto Rico. This was one of the first times she had seen her grandma since the year before.

By Anna Lindquist

Junior, Estefania Cruz-Casillo had previously lived in Puerto Rico all her life and moved to the United States freshman year. Over winter break, she got the chance to visit Puerto Rico, for the third time in three years, sparking her nostalgia for her home country.

“It’s both good and bad going back,” Estefania said. “I love getting to see my dad and my friends, but when I have to leave, it’s heartbreaking.”

While the recent visit reminded Estefania of her home of 14 years and how much she missed it, she doesn’t regret her decision to move with her mom to the US.

“I have a lot more opportunities and I can take my studies more seriously,” Estefania said. “In Puerto Rico, everything is more laid back and here, I try a lot harder. It’s made me more prepared for my future.”

Moving to a different country with a different culture can be daunting, according to Estefania, but she got to experience something new and exciting as well.

“There’s a pretty large difference from the States to Puerto Rico,” best friend Madeline Lamb said. “It never snows in Puerto Rico. When Estefania sees snow, she freaks out and gets all excited, even now, because she’s just not used to it yet. Puerto Rico is quite small and I think that’s what spurred her love for travel as well. Being in the States makes it a lot easier to visit all sorts of different places.”

When Estefania first moved, she had to adjust to the language difference. Estefania was already fluent in English, but she often had to help her mom through simple phrases and pronunciations.

“The language wasn’t really a problem for her because she studied English since kindergarten,” Astrid Casillo-Nielson, Estefania’s mother, said. “She helped me, because I learned as an adult. She explained and translated [words] for me. She still does, and I’m grateful to learn from her.”