Karen Licudine, 28, moved from the Philippines to Chicago with her family when she was two years old.
For her, growing up in Chicago was a multicultural experience.
“It’s where I get my wit and my sense of humor from,” she said. “You can tell a lot about a person from how they take a joke and how quickly they respond.”
Karen said Chicago is a beautiful place where a lot of things start and are created. She said because of that, she found it difficult to leave.
BELMONT and the BIG MOVE
Moving to Nashville in December of 2014, what was also difficult was losing the support of her friends and family for an unfamiliar place.
“I have friends here, but it’s not the same,” she said. “When you don’t have people who you know are praying for you or support you and you don’t know what to do on a Friday night, game over.”
Karen graduated from high school 10 years ago. She attended a community college in Chicago for a few years but said she wasn’t really all about it.
She found herslf wasting money by paying for classes she wasn’t going to she said at the time she didn’t really value college.
Karen said after getting lost in the party scene, she started going to church and realized she needed to fix and finish things.
“I’m glad I [had that experience] because now I’m in it to win it,” she said. “I wanted to finish my degree and I found Belmont. I knew if I wanted to move out of the house, I had to move [completely] out, not 15 minutes away or down the street.”
Motivational author and speaker, Don Miller, had a Storyline conference at Belmont. Karen went to the event and hung out in Nashville. She liked how close everything was to campus and how small the school was.
Graduating in May of 2017, Karen is a part of Belmont’s adult degree program and is pursuing her bachelor’s of art degree in public relations.
“Their public relations program is really good and the professors there know what they’re doing,” she said. “I wanted to be led by that stature and caliber of people.”
She said she was proud to be a Belmont student.
“I’m proud to be a Belmont student. I love where I am and I know this where I’m supposed to be.”
Karen currently does social media for the rugby team at Belmont.
“If there’s anything I’m learning it’s how to create this team into something else,” she said. “I’m learning the sports aspect of it all which is what I wanted but it’s tough because they aren’t a recognized team, nor is it a recognized sport.”
She said she’d love to move back to Chicago if she could work for the Cubs in social media or their communications department.
COMPARE and CONTRAST
Karen found a little bit of Chicago in Nashville and works for 312 Pizza Company when she’s not studying, writing or hanging out with friends.
“People that are from Chicago want to tell you that they are from Chicago,” she said with a smile. “I don’t know what it is.”
“I’ve noticed there aren’t a lot of Filipinos in Nashville so I guess I stick out a little more so it’s fun.”
Karen said she’s a total extrovert.
“In Chicago, we have the Willis Tower and attractions to do on the weekends,” she said. “Here, it’s more like let’s grab some coffee and more personal things. And I guess that’s just how people connect here. It’s something I’ve noticed and I’m trying to get accustomed to.”
She said one thing that Nashville has that Chicago doesn’t is southern hospitality.
“It is definitely a thing and that goes even on a professionally level,” she said. “People here want you to do better and you can see it with people so willing to meet with you or give you advice.”
Karen had a project for a public relations class to meet with a working professional. She emailed many people in Nashville and received 100% response rate. She also sent emails to people in Chicago and no one answered.
“I could grow so much more in Nashville than I ever could in Chicago,” she said. “I think that’s why I moved here. I think that’s why things aligned for me to be here.”
the BLOG and DOING ART
Karen said another thing one does when moving to Nashville is start a blog.
“I used to journal then I decided I need to be a little more diligent about setting time aside,” she said. “There are things that I’m experiencing that I want to remember and blogs are fun. It helps to practice your writing and that’s a skill you’ll need no matter what you do.”
On The Story of K, Karen blogs about herself and her time in Nashville. She writes about things she’s learning, about growing up, getting out of the nest and figuring things out on her own.
“I feel like I’m 28 going on 19, moving out and seeing the world differently.”
Karen said she’s happy she moved out because it forced her to meet new people.
“In order to be known, you have to let people in. They didn’t just go to school with you or just work with you for a number of years and know everything about you,” she said. “You have to be proactive about meeting people.”
“My favorite part about blogging is when someone says, ‘me too.’ There’s nothing better than writing something and knowing that someone else freakin’ understands what you’re going through.”
She said when she thinks of the word ‘creative’ she thinks of people who can just do art. She said she’s learning that writing and in particular, blogging, is an art too.
“There is a creative aspect of turning words into something that people can envision in their heads,” she said. “Writing a book is incredibly creative and it isn’t for everyone so that’s what I’m learning and that’s the season that I’m in.”
Karen is sticking with the blogging for now and said isn’t sure if she wants to write a book later on.
For Karen, in its healthiest form, a community is when you are known.
“The strongest sense of community that I have ever felt is when people know each other in all sense. It’s when people say, ‘I know who you are and I know your past, but this is where you’re going and I want to help you get there.'”
She said being a part of a community is figuring things out with people and knowing there are things you just can’t do on your own.
“I guess that’s what makes [community] so beautiful. You aren’t always asking to be the heart of it, you are naturally looking for it. You have more sense of a calling to it than it is calling for you because there are so many different communities to be a part of.”
Karen recently started an internship at Cross Point Community Church. She said she struggled initially because she felt like she wasn’t creative enough or didn’t have much to offer.
She said she took a hard look at herself and decided in order for people to get to know her she must be active and available to be open and engaging.
“I’m trying to let myself in and offer them things that I have as well,” she said. “The same thing with Belmont. I’m finding quality people there that I’m letting myself be around. I’ve found you can only be as good as the people that surround you.”
As far as any concerns she has, Karen said she believes there’s a struggle between the South and Nashville.
“I don’t think they’re the same,” she said. “Nashville has different kinds of people. There are a lot of things that Tennessee wants that Nashville does not. In politics, they don’t always get along and tend to butt heads. It’s just something that I’ve noticed.”
Karen said because of the lack of diversity it could come across Tennessee isn’t very welcoming, as compared to other states like Illinois or California.
“Sometimes I forget we’re in Tennessee because Nashville is becoming something completely different.”
She said it’s becoming a bigger city and predicts the city will explode even more in the next five to ten years with talent and businesses.
Thanks for reading Nashville!
Every Thursday at noon Neat Nashville embraces the community by highlighting an individual in a feature article that tells their story and voices their concerns about the city moving forward. It is our hope to inspire good change locally, to be a force of unity, and support the people we all call neighbors.
It starts with community. It starts where you are.