Kirsten Agla

University San Francisco Quito, Ecuador

I am writing this article at an elevation of over 9,000 feet in Quito, Ecuador, the country’s capital, and the altitude sickness is real.

During the first couple of weeks I was exhausted and hungry all the time and had to frequently take naps, but I have since adjusted and miss the ability to eat and sleep more than the average person.

Why did I choose to study in Ecuador?

Well, Ecuador uses the U.S. dollar so I didn’t need to exchange my money, there is only an hour time difference now due to daylight saving time, I get to experience city life and the food is delicious and full of carbs.

Also, one of my majors is Spanish, so that’s a no-brainer.

I experienced a different type of culture shock than other Keene State College study abroad students.

This is because I went to India for three weeks for the Honors Global Engagement Program, spent a day at home in which I mostly slept and then flew to Ecuador straight after.

Contributed photos / Kristen Agla

Contributed photos / Kristen Agla

Going from India, a country that shows zero public displays of affection between the opposite genders, to a city inundated with couples making out all over the place really confused my travel-rattled brain.

However, I have noticed one cultural similarity that these countries share but the U.S. does not, which is that kids tend to live with their parents during college and afterwards, often until they are married.

This astounded me — mostly because I can’t imagine living with my parents until I’m 30.

I just couldn’t do it.

Sorry, Mom and Dad, no offense.

Being in your late twenties or older and still living with your parents in U.S. culture is an atrocity that signifies that you are a loser (haven’t you seen “Failure to Launch?”).

Yet, after my initial shock wore off, I could see the value in this cultural norm.

A person just entering the workforce doesn’t make a ton of money, and the money that would go toward rent and food is saved instead for when they are more financially stable and ready to be on their own (or, in our case, be put toward student loans).

In addition, living at home for so long demonstrates and promotes the value of family.

Despite these positives, I’m still going to try my hardest to not live with my parents after I’m 23.

Now here’s something that will put KSC students to shame — coming home after a night out at 2 a.m. is considered early here, and it’s not uncommon for Ecuadorian youth to come home as late as 6 a.m. on weekends.

Also, people can actually dance instead of just shuffling in place or grinding on their dance partner.

Plus, there are these things called “chivas” that started out as public transportation, but in Quito they have become brightly colored party buses with their own bar that drive around the city at night.

All in all, studying in Ecuador has been a fantastic experience that has not only improved my Spanish, but has opened my eyes to a culture that cannot be explained in 600 words.

If you’re a Spanish major or minor I highly recommend coming to this country with its beautiful mountains, prehistoric jungles and temperate beaches.

Just don’t let people’s hospitality kill you.

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