I remember a day during the beginning of my semester abroad. I had spent the day out running errands through the city, and I was exhausted. I took a taxi home and the driver began asking me where I was from. I attempted to say that I was going to be here in Ecuador for four months, but apparently I got confused between “meses” and “mesas” so I said I was here for four tables rather than four months. I am happy to say that a lot has changed since them.
I used to feel self-conscious about speaking Spanish. It didn’t feel natural at all and I had to think so much before I could utter the simplest of phrases. One of the biggest differences I feel three months later after studying in Ecuador is how little fear I have with speaking Spanish. I don’t have to think as much. Spanish has opened up a whole new world for me, a world of people and opportunities that was closed to me before. The accent In Ecuador is clear and easy to understand, and the people are encouraging to new Spanish speakers.
Before I came to Ecuador I had a strong interest in working within the state department in one capacity or another. That desire is still strong within me, and now I am even more confident that I have developed skill sets here in Ecuador that will aid me significantly working within the state department. I am well on my way to becoming fluent in Spanish, I have managed cross cultural work relationships, and I have a deeper understanding of Ecuadorian culture and politics.
This past weekend my family from the US came to visit me. They had the chance to meet my Ecuadorian family which was one of the highlights of the trip for me. We went all over the city- enjoyed delicious Ecuadorian food, traveled to the city of Mindo for waterfall hikes and zip-lining, and toured multiple churches in Colonial Quito. It was so special to show my family all of the people and places that have meant so much to me this semester.
I feel that I am currently in that “sweet spot” of study abroad. I have done the hard work of the first couple months where everything was new, language barriers were frustrating, and home stay felt strange and foreign. Now I get to enjoy my final month here in Quito. I maintain regular contact with my homestay family by attending the same church, I have my regular spots for groceries, I know the best coffee shops in town, and I feel comfortable navigating the city on my own. I have established relationships at my internship and I am seeing the reward from all of my hard work in class.
I am trying to savor every one of these last days. They go so quickly and before I know it I will be back in Michigan during the middle of winter. Until then, I am going to enjoy every single last day I have here.