It was the coldest day of my life.: Becoming Minnesotan

Susana de León, 2011.  Minnesota Historical Society, Oral History Office files.
  • Name - Susana de León
  • Age at interview - 44
  • Gender - Female
  • Generation - First Generation American / Immigrant
  • Date of Interview - 04.08.2010
  • The Journey

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    Essential Question

    Coming to America: What did coming to America symbolize for this person?

    The Journey: How did this person get to the U.S.?

    Words to look for

    Background Information

    The climate of Minnesota is very different from that of much of Latin America as well as that of Texas and other parts of the southern U.S. where many Latinos live. Arriving on an airplane in winter can be a shock to many new immigrants, and adjusting to the weather may be one of their toughest challenges!

    To learn more about Latino history and culture, visit our Latino Community page.

    • Chapter 1

    Download Susana de León 3
    2:40 Minutes | 2.56Mb


    Narrator: Susana de León (SdL)

    Interviewer: Lorena Duarte (LD)

    LD: What were your first impressions of Minnesota?

    SdL: Hmmm . . . Okay. In preparation for my trip, Jeff said to me, “It’s really cold here. So make sure that you bring boots, a long coat, and a scarf.” I said, “Okay.” I went to buy boots, high heels . . . needle, you know, really high.

    LD: [Laughter] Stilettos?

    SdL: Yeah.

    Boots, you know, that’s all I knew. Who would know, rubber sole, nothing. Stiletto boots. A long coat? Sure, very pretty, very thin, silky, shiny, beautiful, what you would wear, probably, for spring. And a scarf? A silk scarf. You got it.

    LD: You were prepared.

    SdL: I was prepared; I said “Whatever,” you know. I come from the desert. The coldest that you get there it’s at night and when you get up, it’s a little chilly, but the day, it gets hot. So I’m prepared.

    I come to Minnesota and I arrive at Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport. And I pick up my luggage and Jeff says, “Hold on. Hold on. I want to go get the car so you don’t have to walk too far.” I’m like, "All right." He goes, “Just meet me at the door when the doors open.” Sure. Now the doors open. Oh, my God!

    LD: What month was this?

    SdL: March.

    LD: Ooh! At least it wasn’t December! [Laughter] But what was your reaction?

    SdL: It was, I think, the coldest day of my life. The doors open. The wind comes gushing in. Snow is flying. I take the first step outside, stilettos are just all over the place. My little coat is flying! My scarf is hitting me in the face! And I am just cold. And I screamed. And Jeff is like all worried and picking my luggage, and I get in the car, and I’m shaking, shaking, shaking. And I am just, you know, shocked! I wanted to take the first flight back to California. California was like seventy when I left. I’m like, am I going to put up with this?

    Related Glossary Terms


    Noun: A woman's shoe with a tall, slender heel.


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access].
    nid: 2178