Chao Ecuador!

Claire Fishman
May 20, 2013

I’m leaving for the airport in approximately 3 and a half hours, so I should probably be sleeping right now. But I need to reexamine that first sentence. I’m leaving for the airport in approximately 3 and a half hours. It’s so strange to think that after 4 and a half months living in Quito, I’m heading back to the United States. I don’t think that’s completely set in yet. Yes, we had a meeting with IES about reentering our home country, and we had the goodbye dinner I wrote about earlier. But in these last couple of hours, to think about actually leaving…it’s quite surreal.

Of course, in the moments before leaving, we tend to idealize things. My study abroad experience was amazing, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t without difficulties, and there weren’t some days when I wished I was back home. And sure, there are some things I’d do differently if I had the chance to repeat the experience. But more importantly, overall, it’s been an incredible 4 and a half months.

I’ve visited places I’ve only ever dreamed about visiting, have gotten the opportunity to be immersed in a language other than my native tongue, and have made wonderful friends.

And it’s crazy to think how quickly the time has passed and how much we’ve learned. Back in January, despite growing up in New York City, Quito seemed intimidating and scary, and I had no idea how to travel anywhere. Now, I’ve traveled to both the far south and far north ends of the city many times, taken night buses to other areas of the country, and can easily bargain at the artisanal market.

While there will probably be various aspects of reverse culture shock upon returning to the United States, I think one of the strongest examples will be the difference in the pace of life between Ecuador and the US. Here, everything is slowed down, and Ecuadorian time is the opposite of punctuality. As an American college student used to running around from one place to another with a packed schedule, it’s certainly a change. And I won’t pretend that hasn’t frustrated me and that I’m suddenly going to hate living life at a quicker pace. But I would like to  integrate Ecuador’s attitude of slowing down and appreciating the present into my life. All around the country, you’ll see a logo that’s a circle with a rainbow of colors, and next to it the words “Ama la vida” (Love life). A country that has this as its motto is clearly onto something.

One other aspect of life in Ecuador that I will dearly miss is the warmth and openness of the people. Everyone greets each other with a hug and a kiss on the cheek, and it seems that when someone asks you how you’re doing, they truly care about the answer. It’s not that this doesn’t happen in the US, but the culture here just has a certain warmth to it that isn’t typically found in America. Perhaps it’s related to the slower pace of life.

While I don’t know if I will ever return to Ecuador, I certainly hope to if I get the chance. To quote a famous Ecuadorian artist, Guayasamín, “Siempre voy a volver” (I am always going to come back). Of course, I can’t predict the future, but to take Guayasamín’s quote less literally, I hope I will at least always “come back” to what I have learned in Ecuador, and the memories I have made here.

Gracias a Ecuador y todas las personas que he conocido aquí, por una experiencia increíble, inolvidable, y por supuesto, super chévere! 


More Blogs From This Author

View All Blogs

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>

2013 Spring
Home University:
Brandeis University
Explore Blogs