Veronica Garcia ’16
Patricia D. ’46 Cassat and George L. ’46 Cassat Endowed Scholarship Fund
Today is a relaxation day for Veronica Garcia ’16. For two days a week, she’s primarily in photography class, and the rest of her week is spent studying and exploring the city of Kyoto, Japan. So she’ll grab coffee in a café, walk around the city, and contemplate her individual research project.
This is the second off-campus study trip for Veronica, a Cinema and Media Studies major from Chicago. In her sophomore year, she traveled to Madrid with the Spanish program and says each trip has challenged her in completely different ways.
“I came here [to Japan] to experience foreignness,” Veronica says. “I’m feeling out of place, and I don’t know much about photography—it’s very vulnerable.” By contrast, she didn’t feel like a stranger in Madrid because she speaks Spanish and felt free and fearless to travel on her own, to get lost, and to ask for directions.
Whereas her Madrid trip taught her more about people, her Japan trip has been more about culture. Rather than taking short trips to different cities, Veronica is sticking close to her home away from home and trying to immerse herself in just one city.
She’s also learned different things about herself on each trip. In Madrid, she realized she had been working toward a Spanish major for the wrong reason—simply because her parents were from Mexico. Now in Japan, Veronica says she is re-evaluating her spiritual side.
“I was raised Catholic, and I think Carleton has really made me realize that it’s OK to question our own religion,” she says. “And encountering Buddhism here has been helpful because I do think I need a spiritual guide in my life. Buddhism is very reflective, which is good especially as I enter my senior year and am trying to imagine my real-world self when I don’t have school telling me what to do.”
This summer in particular, Veronica is excited to return to Chicago and work on a documentary about her father, how he identifies himself in terms of gender, ethnicity, and nationality. It’s a project she hopes will lead to greater family bonding and open an untapped vein of creative expression.
“Both of my off-campus study trips have led me to grow and do something I never thought I’d do,” she says. “I’ve come to appreciate more simple living rather than hoping to reach out to the masses. Sharing with my community and helping my community get closer and relate to each other would be the goal I want to achieve.”