In honor of Valentine’s Day I was prompted to write a blog post about something I love about Ecuador and my study abroad experience thus far. While contemplating this question, I considered writing about the ease of traveling, or the amazing biodiversity of the land and the people, but after giving it much thought, I think what I have loved the most about this past month is the fact that every day is a new adventure.
My time here has been filled with moments I could have never imagined. These experiences range from traveling the country by bus: visiting cloud forests, hot springs, and volcanic lakes, going to my first day of classes at Católica, where I knew no one and was definitely the only Gringo in close proximity, or the first time I navigated the bus system in Quito by myself. All of these moments have been new adventures, but I cannot lie and tell you that I have loved every second of them. There have been days that have been filled with challenges and by the time I make my way to my homestay and realize I have to muster the energy to speak coherent thoughts in Spanish to my host family I am just about ready to give up. But I have realized that these rough days and more challenging experiences are part of what make up the overall adventure.
This newness and sense of adventure that is what I love the most, has also been one of the biggest challenges I have confronted since arriving in Ecuador. Within many of my adventures I have also been presented with situations that extend beyond my comfort zone, yet these moments have also allowed me to extend my worldview and continue to grow into the person I am meant to be. One thing I have come to appreciate in the past month is to cherish the adventures that each day holds. Yes, many extend beyond my comfort zone, and there are times where I second guess myself, but the times when you don’t know what is around the corner or over the top of the next mountain peak is precisely what makes life astonishingly remarkable.
So this valentines week as I reflect on what I have loved most about my study abroad experience, I know that it is not one thing about Ecuador that I love (although I could name many), rather it is my love for new adventures. Yes, there are times when the adventure is daunting and unknown, but it is well worth the ride. I hope that this realization sticks with me not just throughout my time abroad but also upon returning to the states. My everyday life at home may not consist of swinging from a treehouse that overlooks an active volcano, or sleeping at hostels and talking to people from all over the world, but each day does hold the possibility of meeting someone new or doing an act of kindness. What I love is my appreciation of what makes life so great, but not just here, everyday life, no matter where in the world I am or what I am doing. I hope that this Valentines week you can also find a way to love the newness and the special gifts that each and every day has to offer.
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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>