Preparing to study abroad in Quito is the next step in the choppy, messy, adventurous, life I have chosen to live over the past several years. It started when I delayed going to college for a year and decided to work at home and travel in Chile. Then the pandemic threw a wrench into the flow of the world, cutting my school year off abruptly and sending me home. Naturally, I took advantage of the situation and moved to Colorado, where I learned to live independently and create my own adventure. Back in D.C. for my Junior year, a little disoriented but still embracing my nomadic spirit, I decided to study abroad for my whole senior year, in two different places. I am now writing from a café in Buenos Aires, both reflecting on the rollercoaster of my past three months and wondering about my next adventure across the continentthe last of my college career.
As a current student in IES Abroad Buenos Aires’ Advanced Spanish Immersion program, choosing the Quito Direct Enrollment program felt like a natural progression to strengthening my language and cultural adaptation skills. Rather than taking classes with a tight knit community of Americans, I’ll be studying alongside local Ecuadoreans and other international students from around the world. As I prepare for Quito, I realize it will be a little bit more uncomfortable, integrating into the life of an entirely new, large university. I might not have a group of 20 fast friends, close relationships with my professors, or the wonderful sense of community that I have found through IES Abroad Buenos Aires, but I might if I try. Especially if I use what I have learned here in Buenos Aires: to see challenges as an opportunity to grow.
Preparing for this more independent, immersive life I will live in Quito means practicing putting myself out there. It may look like participating more in class to build my confidence in Spanish, talking to someone new in my class at Universidad Católica de Argentina, or saying yes to the extra events my professors invite me to around the city. I’ve learned through my adventurous college experience that building the life I want to live requires these small intentional steps every day. Yes, Quito will feel different, maybe more daunting than Buenos Aires, but each day presents a chance to expand my comfort zone and create the adventurous life I want to keep living.
Studying abroad, whether in Buenos Aires or Quito, is all about taking advantage of numerous opportunities to learn, explore, and grow through experience. Each time I talk to someone new, say yes to the activities my program offers, or explore a new part of the city on my own, a new door opens. In Quito, I’ll keep doing the same, and hopefully be able to keep building my confidence to create opportunities wherever I go. It’s my last semester of my choppy, messy, adventurous college experience, but only the beginning of what I hope is an equally courageous life ahead.
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My name is Elise Fuente and I'm a senior at the George Washington University in Washington, DC. I'm studying International Affairs with a concentration in International Development, and I have a keen interest in Latin America. I'm studying in Quito after a semester in Buenos Aires, and I hope to keep exploring the region as much as possible! I have passion for sustainability, service, languages, and the outdoors, but sometimes I still dream about being a chef. :)