Hello, Rollins family!
Before my study-abroad adventures officially begin at Queen Mary University of London, I am traveling with my mom to Madrid, Paris, and Rome. During this travel, I am already learning how my identities will affect me in my semester abroad. I am first-generation American; my parents moved to the United States from Venezuela a year before I was born. Growing up, I spent my summers at camp with my cousins in Barquisimeto. Every Sunday, we had a typical Venezuelan breakfast with arepas, queso blanco, and perico. My hometown of Weston in South Florida is adoringly dubbed Westonzuela because of the many Venezuelans that reside there. At home, we speak Spanish. Thus, my relationship with my Venezuelan heritage remained strong all my life.
As a Venezuelan-American, I am both Venezuelan and American at all times. I struggled to comprehend this growing up. In the United States, when people ask me where I’m from, sometimes the answer they’re looking for is Venezuela because what they really are asking is how I know Spanish. In Venezuela, they want to hear I’m American. Any child of immigrants has most likely been asked, “No, but where are you really from?” I’ve also experienced this in Europe, where I’ve been speaking mostly Spanish instead of English because I’m traveling with my mom. Especially in Madrid, saying I’m from the U.S. is insufficient.
London is a multi-cultural city where I hope to meet other children of immigrants with similar and different experiences than me. I think I’ll start saying I’m Venezuelan-American when I’m in London next time I’m asked. Both identities of being Venezuelan and American are very important to me. Even being a South Floridian is important to me. I love meeting people from Broward County and talking about common places. I love that with being Venezuelan-American, I have more to share in common with others. I’ve also visited quite a few cities in the U.S. thanks to roadtrips with my dad and opportunities through Rollins, so I can talk about cities outside of Florida, too. One of the things I am most looking forward to at QMUL is meeting people from all over the world. Learning from others who have lived different experiences than me is so valuable to me and something I treasure. I’m beaming with excitement because life is so exciting.
Carla Daza ’20