I have now been in Ecuador a little over a month and a half and I am absolutely amazed at how fast the time has flown by. Upon arriving in Ecuador I had a variety of goals that I had set for myself that I wanted to complete throughout the semester. For example, I intended to keep a journal and be super dedicated to writing in it every night to record my Ecuadorian adventures and I was under the notion that within a month or two I would become completely fluent because I would only be speaking Spanish 24/7. Nevertheless, the nightly journaling lasted all of one week, and I quickly realized that speaking Spanish all of the time with all other English speaking students was a utopian vision. However, I have slowly recognized that perhaps the goals that I came into this study abroad experience with weren’t necessarily what I was meant to leave Ecuador with several months down the line.
When I was picking a study abroad program I knew that I wanted a Spanish intensive program and I passed up some really amazing environmental science programs to have the opportunity to immerse myself in the language and the culture of a South America. For that reason, I thought that my one main goal of the semester was to leave South America five months down the line completely fluent and having spoken nothing but Spanish for the past several months of my life. Although becoming fluent in Spanish is still a top priority (and my Spanish has improved by leaps and bounds) I have also recognized that my study abroad experience can be about much more than becoming fluent in another language.
Late night conversations and traveling across Ecuador with a diverse group of students from all over the United States has resulted in some major thinking and self-reflection. Conversations ranging from religion to ethical decisions with students that have vastly different backgrounds than many of my peers at Villanova has led to an understanding of new perspectives and varying viewpoints. And as much as I would like to believe that we could have these sorts of deep conversations in Spanish, if we were only speaking Spanish all of the time many of these conversations would not be taking place. Figuring out who I am and the person I want to be is much more important than gaining fluency in a second language. I am excited to see what the rest of the semester holds and how I continue to learn and let my experiences shape my world vision.
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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>