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A new home, far from home

Iziah Moreno
Sonam Chok, born in raised in Bhutan, is a graduating senior from UTEP College of Nursing.

Sonam Choki remembers the few pictures of UTEP her sister showed her back in the late 2000s. It was at that time Choki, now graduating senior from UTEP’s College of Nursing, saw her future school for the first time.   

Born and raised in Thimphu, Bhutan, Choki always knew UTEP was the place for her. After graduating high school, she decided to make the move to El Paso, Texas. Though it meant living and studying in an unfamiliar hemisphere, Choki was ready to make that change.  

“I finished my high school and I came here for college and at first, yes it’s very different but being in UTEP, the architecture and everything made me feel a little bit homely,” Choki said. “I always wanted to be in the medical field, and I knew I wanted to come to the U.S. to study as well for college. My sister went to UTEP way back in 2009 (or) 2008. When I was applying here, I saw the option they had in nursing, which is similar, like with what I dreamed of growing up. So, I was like, I’ll take a chance for nursing.”  

 UTEP’s Bhutan-inspired architecture reminded Choki a little bit of home, but it was more than campus sights like the Lhakhang that helped her settle in. From the nice locals to the school’s Bhutanese Student Association, there was comfort everywhere to make Choki’s move a little easier.  

“I would say over here like in the U.S. I became more open than before, and the exposure and basically everything (is) like culturally different, language and everything. At first it was a little bit hard to get used to, but it wasn’t that difficult,” Choki said. “The people here are very friendly, so that really helped me. The friends that I made my first semester are still my friends. They’re really nice. The transition was very smooth, and the friends here were really helpful. Also, we have a few students from Bhutan who study here, so we were always together at first, trying to look after each other.”  

Choki is reminded of home with UTEP’s Bhutan inspired architecture. (Iziah Moreno)

Apart from friends, Choki’s family has been a big part of her move here. The youngest sibling of three and the last to graduate from college, education was always important to her family. While her home is thousands of miles away, it does not stop them from keeping in contact with her mom even by visiting Choki in her new home.   

“My mom did visit me once when I was in college. She was really excited, and she was like ‘Oh, people are really nice here.’ I took her to a campus store and, she did really like it,” Choki said. “I’m still in contact with my family and everything, but it was challenging to be far away. The struggle that I had was cooking because I never cooked when I was back home, so I’d be calling my mom now and then asking about recipes and stuff like that.”  

With the constant support of friends and family, Choki has stayed motivated to complete her undergraduate journey at UTEP however, it is only the first part. After graduation, Choki hopes to go back to school for her master’s degree, along with other options from working to moving cities.  

“I wanted to go back to school for my master’s, but the field that I want to go to requires me to work for at least two years. So, for now my plan is to go work for at least two to three years and go back to get my master’s in the United States,” Choki said.  

Not planning too far ahead for her future, Choki is taking time to see what choices she has.  

Working locally, moving to New York with family and going back to visit Bhutan are some of the things she has considered for her post-undergraduate era. It may be uncertain, but what is certain is that Choki is excited to graduate and be accompanied by those who love her the most.   

“I’m super excited to graduate. It’s hitting me that I’m graduating now that I only have a few months left. I am feeling nervous at the same time, but yeah, I’m very excited,” Choki said. “(My family is) super excited. They’re actually coming here for my graduation. Yeah, I haven’t seen my brother for almost like four and a half, five years because I haven’t gone back home since I came. I am planning to go back after graduation, at least to visit and then I have to come back obviously to take my license and start working.” 

Elisha Nunez was a staff reporter and may not be reached at [email protected] 

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About the Contributors
Elisha Nuñez
Elisha Nuñez, Staff Reporter
Elisha Nuñez is a multimedia journalism student with a minor in marketing at the University of Texas at El Paso.  He works as a reporter for The Prospector, and loves to write about arts, culture, and people. This semester, he wishes to do more freelance work for publications in and outside of El Paso. After graduation, he would like to experience multiple positions at different places, and even has plans for continuing his current education outside of the U.S.
Iziah Moreno
Iziah Moreno, Photo Editor
Iziah Moreno is the photo editor for The Prospector. He is a freshman majoring in multimedia journalism with a minor in marketing. After graduation, he hopes to work in the world of photojournalism and media.
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