As a Spanish major, I am required to study abroad for one semester in a Spanish-speaking country, so I have been looking forward to this opportunity since I paid my deposit to KSC.
Within a few weeks of my first year, I decided that of the four programs offered, I wanted to study in Quito, Ecuador.
Now here I am, and this experience has been a perfect mixture of adventure, stress, confusion and Venezuelan rum.
In the states, I’m usually buried by work between my three part-time jobs and trying to complete two majors and a minor.
It has been so refreshing to learn more from experience here than simply taking classes and writing papers.
Obviously, standard college work exists here as well, but I enjoy it; I feel myself improving with each assignment.
I am loving being able to get out to experience Ecuador with trips to the cloud forest in Mindo, the natural hot springs of Papallacta or even just walking around the city of Quito.
Exploring museums, the “bohemian” area or the amazing murals on my ride to school add even more beauty to the climate here.
Each day, I interact with a new person who teaches me a little bit more about the culture here- whether that be on the bus that almost never comes to a complete stop, the woman working my favorite food truck, where I buy a pastry the size of my face for 60 cents, or my amazing professors.
An amazing way to grow accustomed to the culture of Ecuador is through its nightlife.
There is a group of Ecuadorians who throw parties and plan trips for “gringos,” such as myself.
There are the normal clubs and bars in an area of Quito called “La Foch,” but it is named “Gringo-landia” by the locals, since it is mostly geared towards foreigners.
I go there occasionally, but when we can, my friends and I try out new bars that aren’t quite as loud and dangerous and also filled with Ecuadorians instead of fellow foreigners.
Of course, there are some experiences that haven’t been a dream come true.
Experiences such as riding a bus so packed full of people that we can’t even close the door, taxi drivers making fun of my “gringo” accent or riding in the back of my friend’s car because there wasn’t enough room aren’t necessarily ideal, but I don’t see it as negative.
It’s simply another learning experience that I can share with my students someday, along with pictures of my host family and my adventures, pamphlets I’m collecting and souvenirs I’ll bring back from the artisanal markets.
Through the good days and the bad, the struggling with grammar in Spanish or remembering words I haven’t used in English in a while, I am so incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be here and wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Bridget Pierce can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org