If you had asked me a year ago if I would study abroad my response would have been “Of course! Being in college gives a free chance to visit another country” or something to that effect. In actuality, I never really thought it would happen. Going to college is expensive and quite honestly I was very naïve about where to even begin planing a trip abroad. I knew that I wanted to go to South America to learn Spanish, so I investigated programs at the study abroad office at my university. I chose a program in Quito, Ecuador that fit me academically and professionally. Somehow everything worked out – I booked plane tickets, enrolled in classes and started packing for a semester in Quito, Ecuador before it really hit me that I was actually able to go. When I finally grasped what was happening, I was more than ready!
Preparing to travel out of the country alone is not done easily. Sure, the logistics and details are fairly manageable, but it is more the emotional and mental aspect that truly takes an effort. I was fortunate enough to have some friends who have traveled to Ecuador in the past and offered tips as to the best travel spots and details of that nature. One very dear friend told me to “pack half of what you THINK you need, and then actually take less”, and I kind of wish I had followed this advice more closely. I knew I had over-packed, but wanted to be prepared for anything that might come my way! I wish it was possible to prepare for every trouble that stumbles into our paths, but those bumps in the road are what make it possible for us to grow.
Goodbyes turned out much more difficult than I had ever imagined. In fact, I predicted that leaving my friends and family would be one of the more manageable things, due to the new adventure I was embarking on. Despite this, it was really difficult. It might have started out as a manageable task but as more goodbyes were given the harder it got. I knew I would be missing quite a few very important holidays and events. The more I thought about it all the worse it got. But later I realized how lucky I was to have the opportunity to spend a semester in Ecuador. This semester, I will learn more about another culture by experiencing holidays in a foreign country, and I will be able to spend all my future holidays with loved ones.
While I was very prepared in the clothing and supplies department, I was very ill prepared when it comes to knowledge the city itself. I distinctly remember looking out the plane window as we approached the city and simply being in awe. Little did I know the airport is in the middle of the city with mountains on either side. I remember saying to myself ” I’m in Quito now, here is my home” and for some reason saying out loud made it more believable than the many times I had dreamed the same sentence before actually leaving. As far as I could see out the tiny airplane window was a beautifully illuminated city and after landing, finding my family, and driving away from the airport, I realized things would be much different from what I had imagined. Some say ignorance is bliss and in some cases this is true! From the aspect that I had very little knowledge about the city I was able to start with pretty much a clean slate. I have completely fallen in love with Quito. The city is full of very rich, deep-rooted culture, with a thriving modern society mixed in. I have learned so much in the few weeks I have been here and can not wait to experience more!