It hard to believe that in less than 48 hours I will be back in the US and a couple hours later, back home. Even typing it, it still has not set in. Where did this semester go? Over the past 4 months I have traveled more than ever in my life. I have been to multiple volcanoes, the Amazon, the Galapagos, multiple different small towns, I went on many hikes, and completed an independent research project in Spanish. I have grown a lot during this semester in confidence, independence, and flexibility. There is no way to sum up my experiences in this last blog post so I have resorted to making a short list of the things I’m looking forward to and the things I will miss the most.
Things I’m looking forward to:
- My family, friends, and boyfriend – I clump these all together because overall, I’ve really missed not being with the people I love and am very close to. It was especially hard during my ISP period because I was not nearly as busy as before. Thanksgiving was the hardest day but I’m really looking forward to spending Christmas with all of my extended family. My family, friends, and boyfriend will probably get very tired of me talking about my semester but I’m excited to share my pictures and experiences.
- Comfort food – Don’t get me wrong, the food here is great, but I’m looking forward to not eating rice, potatoes, and soup at least once (if not twice) a day. Ecuadorians also do not eat a ton a vegetables so I’m excited to eat vegetables cooked in many different ways.
- My pets – I really miss my dog and cat. Since my dog is 15 years old, I wasn’t sure if he would make it until I got back, so I’m glad that I get to see him in 2 days. My host family has a dog, but it’s a Pomeranian that I have decided is more annoying than cute most days. I haven’t lived with a cat this semester, so I am very excited to cuddle up with my cat.
- Familiarity – This is a big one because everywhere I have stayed this semester (even in my host family’s house) I have felt like a guest. I am looking forward to being able to decide what I want to eat and cook my own food or make my own lunch. I am looking forward to having the snacks I love in my house and being able to ask for a certain food to buy in the store if I want it. Familiarity also includes sleeping in my own bed, being able to take a bath and a shower in my own bathroom, and knowing my way around my kitchen.
- A normal routine – While I won’t be in a normal routine until school starts in January, I’m still looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to not living out of a suitcase for some time and actually I’m looking forward to a strict class schedule next semester.
- Driving/Living in a small town – I have never lived in a big city for more than a few weeks, so living in a city where I had to rely on public transportation to get everywhere I needed to go was hard. I’m really looking forward to the independence of driving. I love being able to leave when I want to leave and have my own space, instead of being packed onto a bus. Along with the public transportation, the noise, smog, and people were something I had to get used to that I will absolutely not miss. I love having less traffic, cleaner air, and no annoying gas truck that wakes me up in the morning.
Things I’m going to miss:
- Language – I love the Spanish language. I have improved immensely this semester and want to keep improving. It has been very hard at times and there is still a lot that I don’t understand, but I have loved being immersed. It’s going to be weird going back to the US where everything is not written and spoken in Spanish.
- Weather – While I was sad that I missed the rare snowstorm that my friends at home got, I am going to miss the warm weather even more. The sun and the warmth make me happy and give me so much energy! I love wearing short-sleeved shirts every day and that cold weather is considered anything under 60 degrees F. The mid-60s temperature is perfect for me. I’m not excited for the cold, gray weather at home.
- The group – Our group has had so minimal drama that it has been such a nice break. I have made some awesome friends this semester that I will miss lots. Saying goodbye tomorrow is going to be very hard. I know we will keep in touch and I will have to take a road trip to visit them (since many live in states I have never been to).
- Food – I put this on both lists because while there are some foods I will definitely not miss, there are others that I will. On the top of that list is fruit. Since Ecuador is on the equator, they have fresh fruit growing all year round. They have more types of banana and plantain than I ever knew existed and they have so many delicious fruits I have never heard of. After food, I will miss the bread. Everywhere you look there is either a place that sells bread or fruit. It’s always freshly made, so it’s warm and delicious. The bread and the fruit are also very cheap since they’re from Ecuador.
- The constant adventure – While I’m looking forward to getting back into a normal routine, I am going to miss the travel and adventure. Everywhere I went was new and had such interesting things to see and do, including Quito. The travel was tiring but so much fun. I know that next semester I’m going to make sure I continue to find new places to explore in Rock Hill and Spartanburg because there are definitely adventures to go on there that I have not found because I have not been looking for them.
- Less pressure – I love Wofford, but there is always the pressure of grades, organizations, and the social scene. During this semester, of course I wanted to do my best and put as much effort into my homework and assignments as I could, but the focus was on trying to learn and grow, instead of on making the perfect grades. Not being involved in organizations was both a blessing and a curse. Sometimes, I was bored because I didn’t have anything except school but other times I was relieved for the same reason. And socially, there was no trying to fit in or trying to impress anyone else. Everyone just was themselves and it was great!
Overall, this semester was one of the hardest and most rewarding times of my life. I’m so glad I had this opportunity for adventure, travel, new friends, and a break from my normal life. I know I chose the right study abroad program for me and I don’t think I would do anything differently. My friends and I are going out for dinner tonight to celebrate our last night with everyone and we have a lunch with our program tomorrow to finish up. Going home is going to be weird and I’m looking forward to it, but it will definitely be a bittersweet moment.