Lexee Guerra, a Junior at Kaneland HS and member of the Bulls Elite Basketball program, she is currently studying in Mexico for the next 6 months. Follow along as she learns Spanish, immerses herself in a new culture, and plays basketball for Costa High School. She will document her experiences throughout her journey. Stay tuned for Part II.
I have now been in Mexico for about 2 and half months. Though I am really missing home, I value every day I have left here to be away from my normal, usual life. This is the longest amount of time I have ever been away from home, and it can get very hard sometimes. But I know I am here for a reason, and this will end up being a little piece of my life. The little things in life have become so loud and clear to me now, and are actually what makes being away from home the most difficult for me. Being here has also made me appreciate a lot of the things at home. It’s all those little things that most people have, but over time it is over looked, and doesn’t have quite the same impact anymore. Not all girls my age have the same exact luxuries as I do at home, but I think that most girls my age can relate. I miss my mom kissing me on the cheek, hugging me every morning before school, and telling me she loves me. I get “good morning texts” from her, but it’s just not the same as that hug, and hearing her voice to make me feel good about the day. I also miss my dad giving me my confidence in basketball, and cheering me on in every game, even when he can’t make it. He is always so concerned about me, and supports me in everything that I do. I miss my grandma, who is basically my second mother. Whenever I need to get away, just go hangout with her and watch old movies. We can go a whole day watching movie after movie. I also miss my grandpa who cooks the best food in the world, and he is so gracious to cook for us every night. I don’t know what my family would do without him, who brings us all together. I even miss my little brother and sister annoying me whenever they can. It just doesn’t feel like home without them in my ear. It can get hard missing these little parts of my life that I am used to, but it is all part of becoming independent, and learning to give myself my own confidence and strength to get through each day, and make each day count to accomplish my goals. The great thing about missing them is I know I have something to look forward to when I come home.
While my time is here however, I am trying to get as much out of this trip as I possibly can. For one, I have recently experienced many new things with my friends. Speaking of friends; I have really been making strong friendships with a lot of people. It is really awesome, because I now have so many people to look forward to seeing when I come to visit Mexico again. I even have planned for six girls to come stay at my house in Illinois over the summer. While I have been here, I went to my first concerts ever. I went to a “Pitbull” concert and an “Elton John” concert. Though I don’t know the two singers a whole lot, they were both really fun, and I enjoyed myself. Some things I really look forward to is to attand a quincenllera. I am going to my friend’s little sisters at the end of the month, and it will be the first time I have ever attended one. I know it is a sort of time when a young girl is grown up and presented, but I am so excited to finally be part of one myself. Another thing coming up soon is spring break or “Santa Pascua” as they refer to it here. I have two weeks of it here, and my family and I are going to go to the beach some of the time. I can’t wait to relax, and lay out in the sun.
Though I do love the sun, I do not love it when I am playing basketball. It’a starting to get very hot here and it is not enjoyable having the sun beating down on you while you are running and working out. My teammates told me it wasn’t even at its worst yet, so it is definitely something I will have to adjust to. Let’s just say, I am going to be wearing a lot of sun screen! Besides the sun, I have really adjusted to about everything else. My endurance has been improving, and the workouts are getting harder. The other day my coach told us to run until he said stop, and he didn’t say stop until we hit an hour. I have also been doing a lot of running stairs. My legs have been so sore lately, but I decided it was a good kind of sore.
The reason for the coach being so hard on us lately is because of the event, “edeprem” that is coming up at the end of April. I couldn’t tell you what it is like, because I have never been a part of one before, but it is the only thing I have been hearing about since I first arrived. From what I know it is kind of like the “nationals” of the U.S, but bigger. It is an exciting event for everyone, and especially if you’re in a sport. It is an event held every year around the same time, and the school I go to have the privilege of holding it every year. It is a week-long tournament that proves which school is the best in volleyball, soccer, and basketball. It is such a big deal because teams from all over Mexico, in different states and cities come for this event. Because they come from so far, every student who attends Costa is committed to housing one person for that week. Every person is also responsible for one job contributing to the tournament. It is something taken very seriously in Mexico, and that is pretty much what the teams train for all year. Not only that, but it seems to be an event that everyone enjoys, whether you play a sport or not. My school is already preparing for this event, and I am really looking forward to being a part of this experience.
I have adjusted to my basketball team over here. Now that I understand more Spanish, it is easier for us to communicate on the court, and it continues to get easier every day. I can think a little quicker in Spanish as well, making it easier to talk during games and practices. Not only is it getting easier to talk with my teammates, but with my coach as well. I am now able to understand almost everything when he is teaching me, or even yelling at me. Now that I understand him, I understand the encouragement he is giving me as well. As I said before, I do have a little bit of confidence problems when it comes to basketball, ever since I hit that block, but it is nice to have someone encouraging me. Even if I can’t understand sometimes, I really do feel more, and I just play my game. It is funny, because even my teammates will come up to me and tell me don’t be afraid to look selfish, because they can tell I am holding back, and my coach tells me the same. It has just really been reinforcement to have a team and an additional coach who has confidence in me and believes in me. Now, I just need to do it more myself, and I am; little by little. In fact, I am gaining more confidence in all aspects of my life, and it feels great. I am making my own decisions and doing things I want to do, and just going for it.
I have come to realize basketball is not forever… but it is one big part of my life that can be reflected in the rest of my life. I have been and continue to figure out so much about myself through playing basketball. It shows the kind of person I am. The lessons I learn from basketball within myself, I will carry on with me for the rest of my life in everything that I do. For me, basketball has now become more than just a sport.
Click Here for Lexee's Travels Part I