¿Algo nuevo, algo extraño, algo diferente?

Claire Fishman
February 1, 2013

My Spanish professor begins each class with the above question. In English, it translates to “Something new, something strange, something different?” With this question, she has each of us talk about some aspect of culture shock or just something interesting that we’ve noticed about Ecuador. And so: what follows is a list of some of las cosas diferentes that we have  spoken about in class.

1. Unlike in the United States, lunch, or almuerzo, is the largest meal here. A typical almuerzo consists of a soup, a main meal usually with some form of meat and potatoes, and a dessert. While eating such a large lunch takes some getting used to, it also makes quite a lot of sense if you think about it. During the middle of the day is probably when we need the most energy, so eating a large meal then instead of at night during dinner is more logical.

2. Family ties are extremely important in Ecuador. Oftentimes, many relatives will come over to my host family’s apartment, and will stay for awhile. This is not to say that this does not occur in the United States, but at least with my American family, I tend to only see my extended family when I visit them at their houses, generally for special occasions, or a trip planned far in advance. Here in Quito, family visits are far more frequent, which certainly makes for a lively household!

3. If you want to purchase a school notebook sans colorful cartoon designs, good luck! Seriously, the majority of notebooks I’ve seen here look like they were made for young children. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing; notebooks with cartoon cows and fish on them make the day more whimsical:)

4.  The majority of public bathrooms do not have toilet paper inside the stalls. Instead, there is a dispenser outside of the stalls where you go to get paper beforehand. This could potentially cause people to waste less paper, but, as one of my classmates pointed out, it could also have the opposite effect. Also on the subject of public bathrooms-if you want to enter one, you usually have to pay a fee. Luckily, that fee is only 15 cents.

5. Ever thought about putting popcorn in your soup? In Ecuador, eating soup with popcorn, or canguil, is commonplace.

6. Quito loves bikers on Sundays! The bike lanes are packed, and many roads are free of cars and trucks, at least until the afternoon. It’s also a great way to see more of the city while getting some exercise. Quito really promotes biking; free water stations are set up at various stops along the bike paths, and both locals and tourists alike spend their Sundays biking. So far, I’ve gone biking twice with members of my host family, including a trip in which we passed through Quito’s beautiful historical center, or El Centro Histórico. If only I had known ahead of time that that bike ride would be about 5 hours…

This is only a brief sampling of the many cosas diferentes that my classmates and I have encountered thus far in our time in Ecuador, and I know there will be many more new experiences ahead as well! In fact, in about a week, we’re headed to the Amazon-I have no doubt it will be an unforgettable trip!


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Claire Fishman

<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Claire Fishman is a junior at Brandeis University, majoring in Psychology. Outside of class, she enjoys singing with the university&rsquo;s chorus and playing flute with a student orchestra. Her hobbies include reading, writing, cooking. Claire has traveled to Central America twice (Costa Rica and Honduras), but this will be her first time in South America. Despite having grown up in a large city, she loves spending time in nature, and looks forward to exploring the biodiversity of Ecuador. As someone who loves to travel and try new things, Claire is thrilled to be embarking on this adventure!</span></p>

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