The thought of traveling has always fascinated me. I crave the feeling of adventure and adrenaline that comes with getting on a plane, the nerves of stepping into a new territory, the anxiety of trying to communicate in a different language, but especially that combination of being terrified of what you got yourself into and the curiosity of what you will experience. There’s always that fear yet, that anticipation of the unknown, right? I love rollercoasters, and I can’t help but compare it to traveling. When the little car slowly climbs all the way to the top you get sweaty, your stomach feels weak. When you reach its peak, the seconds before the plunge seem eternal. It’s too late to turn around. All you feel are the visceral butterflies flapping around, and then, you drop. The butterflies go mad.
That is probably the best way to describe how I felt the first time I stepped into L.A. and then, a few days later, in La Verne last August. Leaving my hometown of Quito, Ecuador was not easy. Neither was traveling alone to a country I had not visited before, to a university full of students and professors I had never met. I was on this rollercoaster on my own. My thirst for adventure compelled me to study abroad for a year. I wanted to grow academically, meet new people with different perspectives, and in the process, maybe, find myself. But on the plane ride over here, I was cursing my need for adventure, and I was scolding myself, much like I do when I’m buckling the seat of the rollercoaster. “Why did you do this to yourself, Bernarda?”
I was 9 when I first left my hometown of Ecuador to live in a foreign country. I moved to the Netherlands with my dad, my mom and my younger brother. I spoke little English, and naturally no Dutch. But my family made the transition easier; we were in it together, clueless and foreign. Those five years were amazing. Visiting different countries in Europe developed my interest for travel. But when we went back to Ecuador, I felt like a foreigner in my own country. As the months passed, the streets, houses and people seemed familiar once more, and all those years I had spent away from them didn’t seem so long. It was in Quito, my home, that I started to find my passions: art, writing and traveling. I envision my future combining all of this. That’s why journalism flows into my life so well, and I love it.
The stories in this edition of the magazine feature people in our community who have embraced the adventure. Some partake in wacky races, others boldly express themselves with a microphone, paint brush or instrument. And a handful boarded planes to see what was on the other side of the pond.
Now concluding my year abroad in the U.S. and heading back to Ecuador, I realize why the nerves and the crazy visceral butterflies were all worth it. I understand why I keep seeking the adrenaline and getting into rollercoasters. It’s the ride. It’s the energy, thrills, fear, laughs, tears, screams, smiles—it’s pure emotion, and it’s when I feel most alive. Why stay in one place when the world has so much culture, art, perspectives and people to offer? I embrace the butterflies, because the butterflies tell me that what I’m about to do is crazy, crazy good.
Bernarda Carranza, Editor-in-Chief