What better way to jump back into life in America than going to a Cardinals Baseball game three hours after you landed from an overnight flight? As crazy as I may have been to come home and go straight to the ballpark I decided it was a better alternative than sleeping all day and moping around over the fact that I am no longer in South America and will not be gallivanting off on amazing adventures every weekend. I have also had the chance to do a lot of thinking over the past two weeks as I ended my South American journey backpacking in Peru. I reflected on what I was going to miss the most about studying abroad in Ecuador and what aspects my life in Ecuador I wanted to bring back to the states.
Somewhere along this thought process I realized that I couldn’t dwell on the fact that I was leaving the adventure of life in Ecuador behind. I was talking to another friend that has studied abroad before and he told me that as sad as it is to leave all of your new friends and a new culture behind it is important to not be upset that the experience is over, yet you have to be grateful that it happened. I also realized that just because I am now back into the states and returning to “real life” once again after traveling and adventures for five months, there are aspects to my life in America that I can choose to change, to incorporate everything I have learned about myself and the world into my daily life.
When I came home yesterday and looked into my closet to grab my Cardinal’s jersey I was disgusted by how many clothes filled my closet. Before I even unpacked I started grabbing old shirts and shoes to put in a donation pile to give to charity. I have learned so much about what really is a necessity in life and how it is so easy to get caught up in the clutter of things and not focus on what is truly important, which is people and relationships. Another aspect of Ecuadorian Culture that I want to work really hard to incorporate into my life at home is to prioritize time given to friends and family. My everyday life in the states is so busy and it is easy to get caught up in all that I have to do without giving time to just talk to friends and family and have those connections that make the day special. I learned a lot in Ecuador that it is not always about constant productivity and success, rather it is about the people that you choose to surround yourself with that truly matter. Living simpler and focusing on friends and family are just two aspects of life in South America that I want to incorporate into my everyday life back at home.
Yesterday, as I was sitting at the baseball game and half in a daze from lack of sleep and half in a daze just because I was back in North America, where people speak English, everything is bigger, and people are always walking with a purpose, I realized that yes I am sad that my study abroad experience is over, but I have the power to let everything that I saw and experienced in South America to affect me and change how I choose to live my life on a daily basis. And I must say, I forgot how great spring air smells, how nice people are in the Midwest, and how good it feels to be home even if it is just for the summer months.
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<p>I am a junior Environmental Science Major with a Peace and Justice Concentration and Spanish minor at Villanova University. I love backpacking, traveling and new adventures. I am so excited to be spending the semester in Quito, Ecuador and I hope that these posts will help you experience the culture and beauty of life in South America through my eyes.</p>