Little Fish - Blog Tour and Giveaway (US/Can ends 9/18)

Thanks to Zest Books for inviting me to join the Little Fish blog tour and share a story about a time when my life was in transit. Stick around and enter to win your own copy of the book and a matching swag pack!

Little Fish by Ramsey Beyer
Publication date: 3 Sept 2013 by Zest Books
ISBN 10/13: 1936976188 | 9781936976188

About the book:

To eighteen-year-old Ramsey Beyer, the transition from a high school in small town Michigan to freshman year of college at a bustling art school wasn't entirely easy. Like most college freshman, Ramsey experienced an entire range of emotions through the year, from being painfully homesick to gleefully independent - and everything in between. And yet, overall, and in Ramsey's own words, at college she felt "limitless . . . like I'm challenging everything I thought I knew." Little Fish artfully tells the story of that different kind of year.

My Little Fish Memory:
Just Keep Swimming

I had almost the complete opposite experience than Ramsey did at that age, and yet we faced some of the same challenges as well: experiencing new things, feeling homesick, and defining who you are as an adult. When I was 18, instead of going to college in the United States as I had planned, I found myself boarding a plane back to the Philippines. I hadn't been there except to visit since I was about 12. I was incredibly unhappy to be returning--I had spent all of high school planning for my big university experience, buffing up my grades and extracurricular activities--all that hard work for nothing, it seemed. 

And yet my parents had a good point: I had to come home to repair the withering bond between me and my younger siblings, who were growing up without me. My family had returned to Manila a few years before and left me in California where I had wanted to finish high school. To my brother and sister I was a face in a photograph, a distant voice on a scratchy long distance phone call at holidays. Even as I begrudgingly deleted my application to Yale, I knew I wanted to be more than just a vague memory of someone an ocean away.

There were lots of things I really loved about going home. I had missed my family and now I could see them every day. No $3-per-minute rushed phone calls at holiday time--we could just spend all day together, eating and talking and laughing. I love cooking for my family and that's hard to do when you're 7,300 miles apart. I didn't have to work (aside from cooking and laundry and the usual at-home chores). My brother and I played video games ad nauseam and listened to Pinoy rock music. I learned my little sister's autistic quirks. I may not have loved every moment of my time there, but those are some of the really good things I don't regret.

Going back to school, however, was a really different story. It took hours of commuting back and forth to get to my classes (a 15-minute walk to a jeepney, to another jeepney, to a bus, to a jeep again, and finally either a tricycle ride or a really long walk to my building--and all that in reverse at the end of the day). Talk about culture shock. People dressed differently, and had cliques that were hard to break into. I spoke Tagalog enough like a native speaker, but I spoke English like an American and found it hard to switch back. I think I alienated a lot of people (some of them on purpose). I considered joining the international students club, but a lot of the people I met there were really temporary visitors--here for a year--while I was home to stay. I didn't really have friends beyond people who needed help with math. I felt like a complete moron in my French class (where I kept pronouncing things in Spanish--the second language I'd taken in high school). I was a fish out of water. I missed my friends and got really depressed. 

I missed my independence, working at a bookstore, and delving into schoolwork that meant something to me. I missed Yale (I've never been there, actually, but that missed opportunity is still a huge gaping hole in my life that I try not to look at or think about, most days). My mom recognized that I was sad, more than just sad--clinically sad. She let me go "home" to Los Angeles and I'm eternally grateful for that. I couldn't have imagined I'd be doing what I am today: creating, writing, and still swimming along. I don't know if I accomplished what I set out to do by going back to Manila, but I do know that those formative years were crucial in shaping the person that I am today. For better or for worse, I wouldn't change a thing. 

Okay, to be honest, I'd change that part about not going to Yale. I really wanted that.

You can check out some pages from Ramsey's new book on her Tumblr!

You can enter to win this neato swag pack!

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