In previous blogs I have talked about my experience arriving in Quito, and how it was not exactly how I pictured it, but then again I didn’t really have a good idea as to what I was getting in to. My first couple weeks here were thrilling, full of traveling and new friends and an exciting new language that kept me from thinking about the cultural differences. I think it was about my 5th week here when I had my 21st birthday and then the following weeks when I realized how different things are. Ecuador is a country that has many “American Style” things like restaurants, and stores, but each has an Ecuadorian base. For example, one afternoon as I was walking home from school (as it was a sunny day and I was trying to avoid the ever crowed public buses I stopped at the iconic American restaurant and was beyond surprised at the menu. Things like McPollo (McChicken), Big Mac appeared, but also empanadas, a very typical Ecuadorian food. I was also surprised at how, even though its practically the same food it tastes different than at home, but I kind of like the different taste. It makes it Ecuadorian.
Other than a few other situations to the McDonald’s one, I haven’t really experienced an extreme culture shock. The language is sometimes very frustrating and it’s very hard to find Ecuadorians who can speak English, so I must perfect my Spanish. In four months I’m very surprised at how far I’ve come ( and still have a long way to go) but it is super rewarding to actually be able to talk to people in line or on the bus. At first I found it very frustrating that I couldn’t understand and couldn’t communicate with the people around me…. And somewhere along the way it became possible, not overnight and not without struggle, but eventually.
I have struggled a lot with homesickness, which frustrates me more than anything. I am in Ecuador, learning a new language and I want to go home? No, I cannot accept this. So every time I start to feel this way, I go up to the top of our building and look at this beautiful city I am living in. The view is incredible and reminds me why I am here, to learn Spanish. Classes have been incredible difficult at times and that is frustrating too, but the I remember it’s only four short months, just four months then I go home.
I guess that’s it, eventually. In the beginning I kept telling myself, I will be able to communicate, I will be able to travel then eventually I will be able to go home. So far I’m pretty confident in my time here, I have taken opportunities to travel, to see the country, to talk with ecuadorians and also to find out more about myself and my limits (which are sometimes tested while traveling, or even in classes), but overall if you try hard enough, eventually you will reach your goals and then be able to share with others your experiences, and hopefully those you share them with will make bigger goals to reach.
In my time here I have taken Mark Twains words to heart….
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain