Happy Independence Day

My Independence Journey 

Written by Julie L. Parenteau, Ph.D., President of Global Perceptions Communication and Relocation Consulting


US cupcakeAs a young girl, I remember waiting for the fireworks to start on the evening of the Fourth of July in Minnesota. That was one of the few days we were allowed to stay up late because it wasn’t completely dark until nearly 10:00pm at that time of the year. Soaked in mosquito repellent, I remember running around with my siblings and eating fruit-flavored candies until the first burst of color appeared overhead. That moment was always so exciting as a kid!4th_july_balloons_1lg

In high school, I spent the Fourth of July with a family of refugees who had recently moved to the U.S. to escape Kosovo after their home had been demolished in the war. We couldn’t communicate with each other very well, but I still wanted to show them around. I took them to the local park where the annual Fourth of July celebrations were taking place. With rides, games, and cotton candy galore, they were overwhelmed. Eventually we found a place to sit on a hill and watch the colors explode above us in the fireworks display. They looked on in awe.

hilltop fireworksAs a young adult, I still enjoyed watching the fireworks in Wisconsin. Watching them in Madison, the capitol city, was always the best. The Rhythm and Booms performance was timed to music and was widely attended. People would begin staking out their space early in the morning and spend the day catching up with family and friends. Being there together felt like we are all giving the United States a big happy birthday hug.

Now I celebrate the Fourth of July in a different way. I celebrate my Boricua Birthday! What is a “Boricua Birthday?” It is the anniversary of the day I set off on my own Independence Journey.  I moved to San Juan, Puerto Rico exactly seven years ago today to write another chapter of my life. I left my home, my family, and everything familiar to travel a different path. That path has been full of bumps and curves, potholes, and blind turns, but I have found my way through all of it. Today I celebrate the independencechallenges that I have conquered and the people that have helped me get to this point. I celebrate my own Independence as well as that of my fellow Americans around the world.

Happy Independence Day to all who celebrate their independence and the struggles that have gotten them there! This is your day too!


Tell me about your Independence Journey by leaving your comments below!

For more information about Global Perceptions, or to plan your relocation to Puerto Rico, contact me at jparenteau@globalperceptions.net or 787-455-7764.




  • Julie,
    I commend you for taking on such an adventure! And I love that you not only selected this beautiful island in the Caribbean to make it your home, but that you have become a Boricua at heart. You understand our culture, but more importantly, you live it! Thank you for being my friend.
    Happy Boricua Birthday!

    • You are such a sweetheart, Vigimaris! Thanks for being a part of my life and for continuing to support me through the adaptation process!

  • I love the idea of Boricua Birthday! I remember so many days I struck out on my own – going away to college, getting married, getting divorced, moving to a city where I didn’t know anyone, starting my own business. I was scared each time, but just put one foot in front of the other and walked forward – saying ‘yes’ to opportunities. So many lessons learned along the way!

    • That’s the whole idea behind my life here! It sounds like you’ve had many comparable moments. These are the moments that make us who we are. I hope you can celebrate each one and learn from it.

  • It sounds like you have had such a diverse of mix of 4th Julys too. Love your idea of your “own” Independence Day!

    • Thanks Tora! I think we should all celebrate moments like this! I hope you can implement something similar in your family.

  • Yesterday was a walk down memory lane for me of my childhood. We walked down to the golf course to see the fireworks show. The 4th of July was always such a fun filled day when I was a teenager. My son mentioned what a great day he had. He asked me if I thought he would remember our day together when he was older. I told him I was sure that he would.

    I also reminded him that he was in charge of creating these types of memories for himself and someday for his family.

    • I’m sure it was a memorable time for all of you. I’m happy to hear you got to celebrate with quality time together.

  • i love this, julie – congratulations! i told my husband on the 4th of july that we were celebrating our OWN independence. we just sold our permanent residence so that we can travel at will, anywhere and anytime that we want. true freedom!

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