“From the Eyes of a Regia” is a new feature column by Austin Vida writer and Monterrey, Mexico, native Eugenia Vela. She moved to Austin a year and a half ago to attend the University of Texas, and From the Eyes of a Regia will be a quirky, fun and brutally honest collection of her observations and experiences as a “regia” (slang for “girl from Monterrey”) living and studying in the U.S. for the first time.
The truth is I didn’t want to come to Austin. I didn’t want to come to Texas, at all. Growing up with obsessive dreams of living as a writer-slash-Manhattanite when I was older, leaving home for the proudest state was out of the question. But my college counselor pushed. Oh boy, did she push.
According to her, Austin—and UT specifically—would “agree” with “my personality.” I had no idea what she meant. Just as those whom I’ve met here are surprised I’m a Mexican, what with my “perfect English” and the fact that I’m “pretty for a Mexican” (I know there’s a compliment in there somewhere) and not wearing a sombrero, I was just as surprised to learn that Texas is not, well, tacky TexMex full of ignorant rednecks. Austin, I have come to learn, is not like that at all.
During my first year and a half as a journalism major living in this beautiful, and yes—weird—city, I’ve faced many surprises, most of them great.
I’ve come to terms with the fact that the Drag Rats now know me as the girl who’ll give them cigarettes every day ‘cause she’s never carrying any change. I’m almost used to the Nike gym shorts, sneakers and tie-dyed Tyler’s shirt uniform the blonde sorority girls wear daily. And even though I still hate the Greenpeace supporters who badger me on the streets at least once a week, I have slowly but surely learned amazing dodging tactics.
It’s all part of the charm. I guess when I think about it, there are a lot of things different here from what I’ve been used to all my life. After living in a city where you can’t leave the house without make-up and high heels on, it is sort of refreshing to know that if I wake up late, I can show up to Philosophy class wearing green pants, a red hoodie and a Spurs trucker hat without being judged. Actually, people would probably cheer for the Spurs hat. Little do they know I’ve never watched a Spurs game in my life.
And that leads me to a dreadful, terrifying fact for all Texans. Before I came here, I had never even tried, or was remotely interested in attempting to understand what is known as American Football. I know. A gasp has just been heard ‘round the state. But I’ve learned. I’ve been to games. I know now that Jordan Shipley is the future love of my life and that if you pay attention, football is kind of fun and entertaining.
I’m flattered to think you all care about what I’ve got to say. You probably don’t. But from my experience, people are fascinated to hear about the little things they barely notice, which for me are inevitable to point and pick at.
Like a trip downtown. That raises a lot of pointing and picking at. Like the way people dance. You know, a friend of mine from San Diego asked me if all Mexicans are born good dancers. No, we are not. We don’t start dancing spontaneously and on cue. Like everywhere in the world, if you go to a club back home there are your good dancers and there’s the spaz standing in the corner trying not to elbow anyone. But here, there’s this dance, this dance that I just cannot stop staring at. A dance everybody knows. The awkward jump with the fist pump, followed by grinding and dry humping dance. You know the one. When I told my friend from San Diego this, she told me I “ruined white people” for her. What was once just the way everybody (including her) danced, is now something she can’t stop staring at.
That’s why I’m here now. To notice things. To be aware. To find the charm in little things, like the small smile of a shy Plucker’s waitress that’s being hit on by a drunk frat boy at 2:30 in the morning. Or just to talk about the damn good show I went to on Friday where I listened to Los Bad Apples, Arthur Yoria and Rubik.
Everything’s an experience since I’ve gotten here. The day Obama got elected, when ecstatic students screamed in celebration around campus and drivers honked their way through the Drag. Even the two-syllable “daaayuuum” I got yesterday on Guadalupe and 23rd is quite the experience. Man, I love living here.