Pre-departure thoughts from a callejera

Vanessa Morales
January 23, 2018

Being born and raised in Southern California has its perks: sun kisses, the beach only a bus ride away, being part of a vibrant and resilient Latinx community, In-n-Out, and tacos. I grew up a five-minute walk from In-n-Out, so I know I’m home once I see those red and yellow neon lights. However, besides a nice, long sleep in my bed, I’m never truly home until my family and I eat at our favorite taco truck in the city. Most people wonder why I would ever consider leaving California, I sometimes still ask myself the question...Yet I have found myself having learned how to make a home out Haverford College in Pennsylvania.

Learning how to do this wasn’t easy. It was hard leaving comfortable California for unpredictable Pennsylvania--I still remember the shock I felt when I first learned I was going to Pennsylvania through a Questbridge Match Scholarship, overwhelming feelings of elation and fear ran through my tears. It was hard making a home out of Haverford, where it was harder to satisfy my antojos, cravings, to have to do time math in my head and run through my parents’ work schedule to see if I could give them a quick call between classes and their lunch breaks, where I had to work harder to find a community with people who looked like me and came from similar backgrounds of being low-income, people of color, first-generation. But I did it, I found food that reminded me of home, I’m a pro at time-math now (not that it was too hard with a three hour difference), and I found my communities, and made some new ones.

It wasn’t too different getting my acceptance email from IES Abroad letting me know I will be going to Berlin. Anticipation coursed through my veins, up until two days ago. I had just come back home from two weeks of traveling to Arizona, San Francisco, and Mexico City during my winter break. My dad had joked, “Vanessa anda con pata de perro.” The literal translation is “Vanessa goes around with a foot of a dog.” Colloquially, it means “someone that is always wandering on the world,” thus my dad recognizes my love and need to travel. So while each trip had allowed me to learn something new, like that I don’t like San Francisco's transportation system, or that the desert holds such a unique tension of beauty and death, or that I want to live in Mexico City at some point in my life, I needed a reminder of mis raices, of my roots, before I left for another three months in Berlin. Being home with my family again reminded me of the roots I hold in California, that were so important to my growth in Pennsylvania and will be so important to my growth in Berlin. Crying to my mother about my fears, she reminded me that I have already done this and so much more. So I know I will learn how to make a home out of Berlin - I will find food that reminds me of my mom’s home-cooked meals (if I am unable to, I already plan on bringing a few essential spices and sweets to make my own meals), I will learn how to work with a 9 hour time difference, and I will find my communities, and make new ones.


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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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