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The Best of Both Worlds: Texas A&M International University

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Situated at a mere 18.1 miles from the Mexican border, the signature flair of Texas A & M International University (TAMIU) can be classified as a culmination of the different cultures that surround its quaint campus. Located in the heart of Laredo, Texas, the university, which is part of the A & M system, serves as the cultural and intellectual hub for the over 7,000 local and international students that compose the student body.

While Texas is usually known for its immense pride and over-the-top hairstyling, as we reach the southern part of the state, such clichés become a distant memory. As the border is only a short car ride away, TAMIU students often find themselves in the center of a 'culture clash.' In other words, rather than having distinct cultural attributes, Laredo is composed of a mixture of both Mexican and American customs. This blending of cultures is unique to the university and is reflected in nearly every aspect of the student body. From speaking Spanglish, savoring the traditional street foods of Mexico and donning bejeweled cowboy boots, it's safe to say that TAMIU students truly enjoy the best of both worlds.

In terms of everyday styling, the weather of the South Texas region has always presented a notoriously bi-polar challenge; one day it may be a frigid 40 degrees and the next it'll be a breezy and perfect 75. With such drastic weather changes, TAMIU students must constantly be on alert in terms of their wardrobe choices. But despite these inconstancies, Laredoans are known for getting some serious mileage out of their closets.

Strolling through the lush grounds of TAMIU, countless masterfully distressed cut-offs, cute sundresses and chic flatform sandals will most likely catch one's attention. This distinct blending of high and low fashion is yet another result of this bicultural mecca. Derived partly from the minimalistic, sartorial worthy stylings of the citizens of central Mexico and partly from the glamorous allure of urban Texans, the personal style of a typical TAMIU student falls somewhere between the two. The day-to-day ensemble of a Laredoan focuses on creating a balance between the two extremes, meaning one can most likely spot a Fashionista/o mastering the art of minimalism with a twist: the addition of a statement piece.

This Fashionista manages to embody just that, as well as the typical essence of a TAMIU student. Operator of a local fashion blog, as well as a rising sophomore, Alexandra Vela's simple, yet eclectic look is indicative of her personal style as she always likes to "break free from the mold." Living in a somewhat traditional border town, asserting yourself through wardrobe choices is the easiest way to make your mark. Despite the confused looks she may receive upon occasion, Vela proudly proclaims her personal style as falling somewhere between "effortless chic, edgy and minimalistic."

Such effortless cool is reflected in her spin on casual attire. While articles such as sweatpants are usually said to be reserved for lazing around, Vela's pairing of relaxed loungewear with classic leather pieces amplifies the staple to an entirely different level. Her sheer top lends an avant garde air to her ensemble; while her platform cut-out boots are the signature focal point of her look. Vela's mastering of casual cool embodies the everyday stylings in Dustdevil country, bringing forth the unexpected and putting new spins on the most unlikely of garments.

Caught between two vastly differing worlds, the students of TAMIU choose to shape their own preferences and create a culture all their own, rather than merely joining the crowd. With influences from a variety of different places, the community's personal style is then a mixture of all that has come before them, leaving it to be difficult to strictly define. As the intricacies of this cultural hearth truly can't be found anywhere else, its diverse, expressive and unique student body are no exception.

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Allison Ramirez is a junior studying English and Communications at Texas A & M International University. Aside from interning for CollegeFashionista, Allison also operates her personal style blog, The Stylish Soul: www.thestylishsoul.com. In addition to her immense love for fashion, she is a self-professed foodie and enjoys spending her days testing out the latest street food with her beloved dogs. Upon graduation, she hopes to relocate to New York City and pursue her dream of working in the fashion industry.