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The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Long and winding road

Cristina Preda sits in front of various issues of Susurrus journals on Feb. 25 in the Express office. Photo by Robert Paul.
Cristina Preda sits in front of various issues of Susurrus journals on Feb. 25 in the Express office. Photo by Robert Paul.

A student’s journey from Romania to America

Sesundus Seaton | Staff Writer
[email protected]
On Dec. 15, 1989, protestors in the city of Timisoara, in western Romania, repeatedly shouted, “we want bread” and “down with Ceausescu.”

The leader of Romania’s communist regime, Nicolae Ceausescu, answered the dissenting voices of the people by ordering his soldiers to open fire on the crowd.

Although fewer than 100 protestors were reportedly killed, the torch of liberty was ignited in the hearts of the people. The Romanian Revolution had begun.

Five years prior to her nation’s journey to freedom, in Bucharest, the capital of Romania, City College student Cristina Preda was born.

“In early 1988, they [her parents] went to the American Consulate in Romania and asked, ‘Is there any way to be able leave the country? We’re not trying to leave permanently. We just want to travel around Europe,’” says Preda. “My mom had a sister already living here.”

In December 1988, four years after her birth and one year before the revolution, her family was granted political asylum and entrance into the U.S.

Preda’s family had to leave Romania permanently. They eventually settled in Downey, Calif.

“My mom went into labor shortly after we got here. She was actually seven months pregnant with twins,” said Preda.

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“I picked up the language really fast. I already knew some, a bit of English, when I got here. My first experience of school was actually here,” Preda says.

“There was really no adjustment period I just kind of launched into it and then went with it, and it was absolutely comfortable.”

Preda said her parents also transitioned well because they were able find jobs within the textile industry with the skills they had acquired in Romania.

“For a long time they were pretty scared because, as strict as it was in Romania, and as scary as it was there, there were also murders, or rapes, or a lot of the things that go on here. So, my sisters and I weren’t allowed to go out as much as other people our age.”

Nonetheless, by the age of 16, Preda understood that education sometimes took place outside the classroom, and outside the safety of her home.

“I actually dropped out of high school for a little bit. I was bored and not challenged. So, I dropped out to travel across the country,” she said.

Preda never returned to the confines of a typical high school classroom. Instead, she earned her GED at age 17 and continued traveling.
Preda spent most of her time in New Orleans and even lived as a squatter for a while.

“I kind of just lazed around until I was 18 or 19. After the whole New Orleans thing, I came back to live with my parents for a little bit and then I eventually moved to San Francisco. I was staying at a youth hostel.”

In 2006 Preda started attending City College as a biology major, but she has recently switched her major to journalism and continues to write for campus publications.
She has already had three of her poems and a photograph published in Susurrus, the City College literary journal.

Preda says one of her goals is to return to Romania and tell the stories of her compatriots.

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