Brent Menchaca is an AmeriCorps member serving the Watts community at Figueroa St. Elementary school. He is originally from Milwaukee, WI and currently lives in Koreatown in Los Angeles, CA. Choosing to move across the country to serve a community you've never seen is a challenge many of our AmeriCorps members face when they choose to give a year of service. We asked Brent just how he did it so that future cross-country movers can gain some insight!

Q: Approximately how much did it cost to move you and your belongings to L.A.?

A: In my situation, I flew here with my two other roommates and we brought only what we could onto the plane. That left us needing to buy a lot of appliances once we arrived here, such as beds and cooking utensils. We had originally planned to drive across country with a U-Haul attached, containing all of our larger belongings, but it was going to be too expensive. Overall, we spent about $250 on our one-way plane tickets that we order months in advance and $50 on the taxi ride from LAX to our apartment.

Q: What was the most challenging part about relocating?

A: The most challenging part about moving to L.A. for me was leaving behind my childhood friends and family. I remember feeling very homesick at times being in a big city and not knowing anyone going into it. My best advice to cope with this challenge is having a consistent form of self-care. Whether it’s a sport, hobby, or simply listening to music, having time to yourself outside of service helps keep your mind preoccupied and less worried about how things used to be back home.

Q: What was the easiest part about relocating?

A: The easiest part was enjoying all the new things this area has to offer me. New forms of transportation, new job, new people, new everything compared to my hometown. To me, I liked the change from my small hometown to a big city like LA and being exposed to all types of new things once I arrived. I can easily say my weekends went by quicker than the blink of an eye because of how many fun things there are to do out here.

Q: What is one aspect of your move that you hadn't anticipated?

A: One aspect I had not anticipated was how many accounts I have to keep track of to pay all of my utilities, bills, and rent. I realized I would have to be paying bills, but I did not take into account the number of accounts for each service like gas, power, or internet. In addition, all the bills I am required to have require different due dates so I needed to make sure I was on top of all of them. This was a very big change for me and something that I never really thought too deeply about going through high school.


Follow the Figueroa Street Elementary School team (@cylafignewtons) on Instagram!

If you enjoyed this story please check out:

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A personal reflection project created by Raul Cabral, AmeriCorps member serving at ew Open World Academy. 

Ms. Lisle: "City Year creates a nurturing atmosphere."

Helena Lisle is a first-year partner teacher at Carver Middle School in South L.A.

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