Culture

Latina Moms Will Probably Hate This, But Studying Abroad Is The Best Thing You Could Do

One of the most amazing opportunities that come with college is being able to study abroad. Unfortunately, there are a ton of reasons why most of us choose not to study out of the country (*cough* mom, I’m looking at you *cough*). UC Merced student, Camerina Morales decided to just jump in and go for it and these are all the reasons why she’s glad she did.

Most students are terrified to even apply because mom damn near had a heart attack when you went to college *30 minutes away from home.* Now, imagine what she’d say if you tell her you’re going to another country.

CREDIT: CAMERINA MORALES

One of the first internal struggles Camerina faced when deciding whether she wanted to study abroad or not was having to tell her parents.

“They never said yes. My mom and my dad both were completely against it. They just didn’t think it was necessary. My mom said, ‘you’re already going to a university, you’re already away from home, why do you have to go further across the country to get the same education that you’re getting here.’ And my dad had told me that it was very selfish of me. They just never said yes.”

And even if you get your parents’ approval, there’s still another huge problem – money.

CREDIT: CAMERINA MORALES / FACEBOOK

Being able to afford studying abroad, especially in a place like Europe, was really difficult for Camerina and her family.

“I worked the entire summer before going and got some financial aid, but I still didn’t have enough money. I was able to pay for my flight and pay for my first two months there, but after that, I just couldn’t. I didn’t have money. And my parents obviously couldn’t afford to finance me. It’s not that they didn’t want to help me, they just couldn’t. For them it was a burden.” 

And this money problem only got even worse towards the end of her trip:

“I got my wallet stolen when I was there and it was my last amount of money. So when that happened I called my mom and she was freaking out. To be logistical, I took around $4,000, and my girlfriend still helped me with over $1,000. If it wasn’t for that, I would’ve had to come home because I had no money, and I still had another month and a half abroad.”

On top of the financial burden, there’s also the fear of traveling outside of the country for the first time, but most of all, the fear of traveling alone.

CREDIT: CAMERINA MORALES / FACEBOOK

Before studying abroad, Camerina had never traveled outside of the country, which was something that scared both her parents and herself:

“My mom was worried about what was I going to eat, what was I going to do and she thought it was super dangerous. I was very nervous, but also excited. I didn’t have anyone. I was going to a completely different country where I knew nothing and no one.”

Traveling alone only becomes more difficult when you’re extremely close to your family. Homesickness hits hard and there isn’t much you can do when you’re thousands of miles away.

CREDIT: @CHEERISCAM / INSTAGRAM

As much as Camerina enjoyed her time abroad, there were many special family events and holidays that she couldn’t be a part of because she was out of the country:

“It was harder in the end than it was in the beginning, because at the beginning you’re super excited, so the adrenaline beat my fear. But towards the end, towards thanksgiving, I was already waiting to come home, and it got bad. Thanksgiving and all of my family’s birthdays are what I missed. It was my grandpa’s birthday and it was around 4am in London and 8pm in LA and that was really hard for me. I also missed my little brother’s birthday which really hurt me.”

But no matter how hard it gets, studying abroad is definitely one of the most eye-opening, enriching, and rewarding experiences you could go through.

CREDIT: CAMERINA MORALES / FACEBOOK

Even though this trip wasn’t easy at all, Camerina doesn’t regret one bit of it:

“I don’t take it back. I struggled a lot, towards the end especially. But studying abroad gives you that experience of traveling. I loved the different environment, speed of life, different foods. I learned compassion, responsibility, communication and most of all, vulnerability to the general culture and public of being in another country.” 

It’s something every college student should take advantage of while they’re still in school.

CREDIT: @CHEERISCAM / INSTAGRAM

If she hadn’t studied abroad, chances are she would’ve never gotten the chance to travel at all:

“I would’ve never been able to travel with my family. Even though my mom is a citizen, with everything that’s going on right now, she would never leave the country. And my dad works every day, so he can’t skip a day unless he hires someone to do his job, but he can’t afford to do that. My parents have only flown to Mexico once and that was like 21 years ago, and they’ve never gone again because of money. And now, they’re especially not going because they feel restricted.”

And if your parents think you’re being selfish or inconsiderate, remember that college is a time to discover, enrich and challenge yourself.

CREDIT: CAMERINA MORALES / FACEBOOK

Before studying abroad, there were a lot of things that Camerina felt unsure about:

“I learned so much about who I was and who I wanted to be. Before going abroad I was very conflicted on what I wanted to do after I graduated, I thought I wanted to be a teacher my entire collegiate career and turns out my passion is elsewhere. It switched up my path but allowed me to realize that my future remained somewhere else.”

Ultimately, it was a huge learning experience that she will never forget.

“I learned to be healthier, far more independent and I found myself so much happier after being there for only 2 months, so my growth after 3.5 months was immense. I learned about the type of people I knew I wanted to surround myself with for the rest of my life.”

So no matter how many reasons you can think of as to why you can’t and shouldn’t study abroad…You can. And you should.

CREDIT: CAMERINA MORALES / FACEBOOK

Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

“This was something that was very hard for me to do, but I did it. I think that if I did it, and I’m super family oriented, and my parents said no, and I was super financially restricted, then anyone can do it.” -Camerina


READ: This Top Latina Athlete Is Refusing To Run For Her College Until It Fixes Its Racism Problem


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4-Year-Old Girl Accidentally Hung Herself While Climbing A Tree

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4-Year-Old Girl Accidentally Hung Herself While Climbing A Tree

A mother living in the United Kingdom is enduring a “hellstorm of grief” following the tragic death of her 4-year-old daughter. Just days after welcoming her twin daughters, Elise Thorpe was forced to learn of her daughter Freya’s shocking death after she climbed a tree near her home in Upper Heyford, Oxfordshire.

Just before her death, Freya was wearing a bicycle helmet when she went for her tree clim.

Freya slipped and began to fall off of the tree when her helmet strap caught on to a branch.

Elisa Thorpe is speaking out about the incident which took place in September 2019 despite efforts to resuscitate her daughter by emergency responders. According to Yahoo, “An inquest into her death in January 2020 ruled that she ‘potentially slipped’ and her helmet caught on a branch, causing the helmet strap to become ‘tight against her throat.’ She died in hospital two days later.”

Speaking about the incident Elise told The Sun “We live every day and night in hell, torture, sheer shock, and grief that can’t be comprehended.”

Elise told South West News Service that she and her husband “were on cloud nine after the long-awaited arrival and difficult pregnancy” of their twins Kiera and Zack. Speaking about the grief she experienced, Elise said that she would have taken her own life had it not been for the birth of her children.

Recalling the day of Freya’s death, Elise explained that her little girl had gone for a playdate.

“In the early afternoon, Daddy had to go off to collect the special milk from Boots pharmacy in Cowley for the twins, as they were allergic to cow’s milk,” Elise Thorpe explained about how her daughter had been invited to play at a house just a 10-second walk away.

Freya had gone outside without her mother knowing.

“I had a gut feeling I wanted her home. Shortly after, I saw an ambulance at the end of the road – I panicked, at the time not knowing why I was panicking,” Elise told SWNS. “I called my husband to say I was going to get her back from the house behind. He said, ‘No, I’m five minutes away, stay with the babies.’”

“I saw his car go past and not return from the little cul-de-sac. I knew something was wrong,” she went onto explain. After spotting her husband speaking with a firefighter, Elise “grabbed the twins and rushed to a cordoned area where she saw first responders working desperately on Freya.”

After two days of waiting at John Radcliffe Hospital, the Thorpe family learned Freya could not be saved.

“I never stepped foot inside my home again. This is something I also lost and miss to this day — my home,” Elise went onto say. “Had I not given birth only 10 days before we would have taken our lives in the hospital that night, without a shadow of a doubt… We have had so much support over the last 18 months and we can’t tell you all how much that’s helped us through and for that I can never thank everyone enough for the support, kind words and donations – even from those we’ve never met.”

“But we’ve also experienced scrutiny and abuse from people who’ve asked, ‘Where were the parents? How could they let her out alone?’” she added sadly. “It has caused family rifts from relatives and judgment all because people didn’t know Freya wasn’t in our care when this happened.”

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This Latino In His Sixties Spent Half Of His Life Behind Bars, Now He’s Graduating College With Honors

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This Latino In His Sixties Spent Half Of His Life Behind Bars, Now He’s Graduating College With Honors

Photo via Facebook/Miguel de la Rosa

Once in a while, a story comes along that makes you realize that the phrase “you can do anything you put your mind to”, isn’t just an old cliche. One California Latino man proved that the phrase has some truth behind it.

62-year-old Joseph Valadez just graduated with honors from Cal State Long Beach after spending the half of his adult life behind bars.

Valadez’s story went viral when one of his fellow students tweeted about the California Latino man’s incredible story. “This man accomplished something incredible AND took the coldest pic of 2021,” said that caption.

The post is a screenshot of a Facebook post Valadez wrote, accompanied by some stunning graduation photos of the 62-year-old.

“I finished my last two semester at Long Beach on the ‘President’s Honor List’ for making straight As,” wrote Valadez on the CSULB alumni Facebook group. “Was also on the Dean’s List with a GPA of 3.67. Not bad for someone who spent half his adult life in prison.”

“There’s a misconception about guys like me that I want to break,” he added. “If I can do it, anyone can.”

Since the picture went viral, Valadez opened up about the journey that took him from rock bottom to where he is now.

Like many people in the prison system, addiction fueled Valadez’s life of crime. In an interview with Long Beach Post, he revealed that he began using heroine when he first joined the army at the age of 18.

“All the crimes I did were related to trying to get drugs, selling drugs,” the California Latino man told the Long Beach Post. He would spend 38 years of his life battling addiction.

After that, his life spiraled into a cycle of addiction, homelessness, violence, and crime. In total, Valadez has been to prison 40 times. He has spent more than 30 years behind bars.

Valadez finally decided to change his life in his 50s, when he realized that if he kept living this way, he would die soon.

In 2013, Valadez checked into an adult rehab facility. He stayed there for a year while he got clean. Soon after, he enrolled in Orange Coast Community College before ultimately transferring to Cal State Long Beach. In total, it took six years of challenging coursework for him to graduate. But from the look of pride in Valadez’s face, it was worth it.

Throughout his journey in the educational system, however, Valadez has discovered all the ways that the system failed him. Despite getting good grades in high school, teachers didn’t suggest college as an option for him. Instead, they suggested he pursue landscaping or construction. Similarly, when Valadez bounced in and out of jail due to his addiction, no one ever suggested rehab as a way for him to break the cycle.

Now, Valadez wants to take the lessons he learned and give back to his community.

At CSULB, Valadez excelled in sociology, and was interested in exploring how the criminal justice system is set up to target people of color. “I know a little bit about that subject because I lived it,” he said. “I wanted to understand the ‘why?’.” As of now, he is waiting to see if he gets accepted into CSULB’s Social Work masters program.

Valadez wants to use his new degree to help young kids who are at-risk of being failed by the system, like he was. “I’m going to inspire somebody, I’m going to motivate somebody, I’m going to give somebody hope,” he said. “That’s what I’m supposed to do.”

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