Learning the Ropes

Alissa Welker
January 21, 2015
Enjoying the natural beauty that Ecuador has to offer

Anytime that you go to a new city it takes time to get acclimated and learn how to get around, the best local hang out spots, and the vibe of the city overall. Prior to going to college, I had lived in St. Louis my whole life and it wasn’t until moving to Philadelphia for school and Boston last summer that I really had to learn a new city on my own. This past summer finding my way around Boston was a challenge in itself; however, I am quickly realizing that it takes more than a couple of weeks to feel at home in a city where nearly everything is completely different. The language, the food, the traffic laws… The list goes on.

Although learning the ropes in a foreign city can be difficult, I know it is also an amazing adventure and opportunity to learn about myself and a different way of life. Living with a host family this semester has been and will continue to be one of the most important aspects of my time here in Ecuador. Living with a family is not only the best way to learn about the local culture and customs, but it also means that I automatically have a support system and an Ecuafamillia [Very unofficial term for Ecuadorian Family]. Additionally, my host family and program directors have been incredibly helpful in giving me directions, telling me local tips, and teaching me how to take the bus when it already seems like it is at its maximum capacity.

I am also learning that it is all about the small victories. For example today, I bought something at the supermarket all by myself. (Although they almost didn’t let me because when you use a credit card you have to give your phone number and I didn’t remember mine). The real test will come tomorrow when I have to find my classes at the university and navigate my way around a new campus while trying to understand everything that is being said. But I know that all of these things will come with time.

No, I don’t quite feel at home in Quito yet, but I am sure that as more time passes and I continue to get to know the people and culture of Ecuador I will feel a little less like a lost Gringo tourist, and little more like a local [although in the eyes of the locals I will always be a Gringita]. Although gringo normally has a negative connotation, “Gringita” is an unofficial term of endearment here for Americans. I look forward to all of the adventures that the country of Ecuador holds for me. And one day I hope I can consider Quito a second home. 


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Alissa Welker

<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>

2015 Spring
Home University:
Villanova University
Environmental Studies
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