Being Chicana in Europe

Vanessa Morales
April 30, 2018

Something that I have been reflecting on has been my identity here while abroad. While I carry a U.S. passport, I identify more as Chicana than I do as American. Chicana can mean many different things; for me, Chicana means to be born and raised in the United States of Mexican descent, but it also means to be constantly negotiating the tensions of borderlands within me - These borderlands comprised of codeswitching between English, Spanish, Spanglish, academic English, academic Spanish, comprised of my love for In’n’Out animal fries and tortillas hecho a mano, and so on. With all of this jumbling inside of me, my identity has shifted around as much as my backpack does in the overbin compartments of the plane. In my predominantly white program, I’m one of few Latinx students - often the token. In my Latinx communities, I’m a Chicana. Abroad, I’m an “American” or a “Californian.” Often my identity of Chicana is overlooked because I could also be from somewhere in Europe up until I open my mouth and my American English comes out.

Navigating this identity has been something I am working through because it has made me confront the idea of nationality, race, and ethnicity. It has pushed me to look beyond being American just for holding a passport from the United States. I befriended a young Hungarian man earlier in my time in Berlin and I remember him asking me once during our conversation what it was like to be American for me. I remember talking to him about my journey as identifying as Latina, and then Mexican-American, and then Chicana, but never fully “American” because I couldn’t fathom the identity of American for me when so often in America, I’m made to feel anything but. This is because growing up in America, American has become synonymous with white and everything and everyone who wasn’t had to hyphenate. This speaks to the dangers of the hyphenated identity and why I am much more comfortable identifying as Chicana. So while it is much easier for Europeans to categorize me as being American or being Californian, I carry my Chicana identity with me and carry America and Mexico with me as I travel Berlin, and Europe.

Vanessa Morales

<p>Hi y'all! I'm from the beautiful city of Santa Ana, CA, the heart of Orange County in Southern California. At Haverford, I am a QuestBridge Scholar as well as a Chesick Scholar; aside from being a full time student, I work at the Office of Academic Resources and the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship. I also am involved with the Alliance of Latin American Students and a resident of Existence as Resistance House at my school. When I'm not in classes or working, I love to take the time and document memories, and growth, through journals and photographs.</p>

2018 Spring
Home University:
Haverford College
Santa Ana, CA
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