Even though I’m already in Ecuador, let’s call this a pre-departure post. The past few months have been crazy with visa issues and handling orientation for both IES and Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ). Needless to say, as always, studying abroad is worth every headache. I wouldn’t be back in Ecuador if it wasn’t.
Following the trend of chaos, I threw my AirPod away on the plane just as we were descending into Quito. Once we landed, I threw on some gloves and frantically searched through the galley trash bins. Thankfully, I found it! At customs, I ran into a bit of an issue with my student visa as I used the same one last year, but they were happy to let me in the country once I cleared things up. I was so happy to see my host family once I picked up my luggage. It felt surreal to be back in Ecuador and pass through familiar places on the way to my new home to unpack and rest after traveling for more than 24 hours.
The past few days have been filled with new faces, familiar places, and long days of orientation. It’s felt both exciting and weird to be back in Ecuador. A part of me feels like I never left and the past 7 months spent in South Carolina were a dream, but they weren’t. I catch myself passing through certain areas of the city and getting hit by memory after memory. I can’t wait to “litter” the city with more memories. Situated up in the clouds, surrounded by active, snow-capped volcanoes and the Andes mountains, there is nothing like this city. Quito is so special to me.
During my last semester abroad, I grew so much as a person. I dove into Ecuadorian + Latin American culture and the Spanish language. Today, as we walked through the historic center, I felt the same excitement as when I first set foot in it around a year ago. The colors, smells, people, and sounds remind me of who I was a year ago and how much I’ve grown as a person. My hope is that, if I ever come back to Quito, I’ll feel this all over again. I’m ready for another semester of personal growth and discovery in one of my favorite places in the world.
As I have yet to start my classes at USFQ, this is still a pre-departure blog at heart. I think the most popular question I’ve gotten is: “Why Ecuador… again?” I know that many feel I should have chosen another country; however, I felt that I would have a more enriching experience returning to a very familiar country. My M.O. was to continue diving into Ecuadorian culture, grow my relationships with local friends here, and make new ones. As for my program choice, I chose to directly enroll at USFQ because I wanted a true challenge. As my time at Wofford comes to a close and I look toward medical school in the near future, I wanted to take full advantage of the time I had left and push towards “Superior” control of the language. In the coming weeks, I want to fully embrace the challenge of building new friendships with local students and tackling college-level coursework in Spanish. I believe I’m ready.
Moreover, I’ll admit that I’m a bit nervous to start classes next week! I definitely don’t regret choosing this program, but I’m sitting at a perfect blend of anxious + excited to start classes as an international student. I’ve jumped through way too many hoops in planning my second semester abroad to have any reservations or regrets!
Again, as I look to my aspirations for another semester in Ecuador, I want to be successful academically, grow in my relationships with my local friends, make new friendships, get close with my host family, and continue to explore this unbelievable country. The coming months will have their tough moments, but so does everything else in life. Above all, I aspire to be flexible, patient with myself, and take advantage of every opportunity I have, while I have it. Here’s to another semester in Ecuador! ¡Chulla Vida!