Two Sides to Every Coin: My Pre-departure Perspective

Catherine Putzier
August 10, 2021
Photo of Fall in Minnesota

We are officially less than three days from my departure for Ecuador.

I repeat.

We are officially.





from my departure for Ecuador.

This is not a drill.

This past week I finished up my internship, took a one-credit Spanish course and attended multiple pre-departure orientations. I finally met the other students in my program over Zoom. We’re a group of 16 that hail from all over the US and beyond: as close as Wisconsin and as far as Israel. Getting to see the people I will spend so much time with felt like the first flip of a page into this new chapter. Inevitably, it means that my summer season is coming to an end, but oh boy this next one will be a whole different type of adventure.

As I start to see my friends and relatives for the last time before I leave, the reality of these next few months is starting to sink in: the reality that I won’t be in my familiar bubble anymore. I have a feeling that my favorite granola bar won’t be in Ecuador. I know I won’t be seeing Minnesota’s breathtaking fall colors. I won’t be experiencing the turn of the season into the cozy winter months. My camping tent will feel forgotten in my closet. My climbing shoes will get dusty. My college friends will carry on and continue enjoying their time together. My dinner dates with grandma will be put on pause.

Despite realizing this, I have no hesitations about my decision. Why? Because that is only one side of the story. Just think of what I will be doing! I’ll be discovering new foods (most likely ten times better than Belvita breakfast bars). Ceviche de Camaron is first on my list: a delicious combination of cooked shrimp, tomatoes, bell peppers, lime, orange juice, and cilantro. What’s not to like? In terms of snacks, I’m pumped to try patacones, which are fried plantains. Second, I’ll get to experience an equatorial climate for the first time. Did you know that Minnesota is currently hotter than the Galápagos? I’m moving to the equator and to cooler weather! If that isn’t convincing enough, I’ll see a variety of colorful species that call the Galápagos and Amazon home; I’ll put my hiking shoes to good use; and most importantly, I’ll be making friends with people from all over the world.

My verdict? The tradeoffs are more than worth it.

Even if my four months go completely different than imagined, I know it will be an experience to remember. What’s the worst that could happen? If the countless adventure books I’ve read have taught me anything, it’s that your plans are just that: plans. They are in no way a guarantee of the future that awaits. If all else fails, at least I’ve got a good AJR lyric to fall back on (although I highly doubt that that will be necessary). As the popular song drilled into my head, A hundred bad days make a hundred good stories. A hundred good stories make me interesting at parties. – AJR

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Catherine Putzier

<p>Hello everyone! My name is Catherine Putzier and I’m a senior at the University of St. Thomas (Minnesota), where I am studying Environmental Science with a concentration in Biology. While on my home turf, you can find me rock climbing at a local crag, playing a game of pickup soccer, or gushing about my three adorable nephews and one adorable niece. I love a good adventure and can’t wait to share about the Galapagos semester program!</p>

Home University:
University of St. Thomas (MN)
St. Paul, MN
Environmental Studies
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