I’ve written a lot about my travels and adventures throughout Ecuador, but now it’s time to get real. Most days I’m not actually adventuring and am pretty soaked into the routine life of university. So here is a post dedicated to “a day in the life” as a Quito Direct Enrollment student at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito.
I’m lucky to have a pretty relaxed schedule this semester, with only three classes that meet in-person every week. (I’m fulfilling my last six credits with an 8-week online Conflict Resolution course and research I am doing with a professor through USFQ’s LEORI program). Since none of my classes start until later in the day, I usually get to take it easy in the morning and have breakfast with my host family. My host mom's warm greetings and excitement to see me in the morning continuously light up my days. As the sun shines through the windows in the kitchen, we enjoy our fruit, granola, and yogurt with fresh tea made from herbs in the garden. My host mom loves to experiment in the kitchen, so sometimes we’ll also have eggs with a side of fried plantain patties or spinach crepes! I certainly got lucky with how good my host mom’s food is.
After breakfast I’ll make my way down into Cumbaya and hit the gym before my 11:30 class starts. Tuesdays and Thursdays I have Temas de América Latina, which is basically a history course about different topics in Latin American politics like human rights, revolutions, populism, and US-Latin America relations. One thing I love about that class, and all my classes at USFQ, is how engaged all the students are. Everyone always has a lot to contribute and each class is a conversation. Structurally, the university is also just very similar to many American universities, where professors have office hours, classes are well organized, and there is great communication and support. Many professors are also used to having international students and tend to be very accommodating.
It’s actually pretty striking how much of an international presence there is at USFQ. Three of my professors have either grown up or studied in the US, one is from Spain, and one is from Canada. The founders of the school also studied in the US and wanted to create a university in Ecuador inspired by the American liberal arts approach. As I mentioned previously, the similar structure to US universities has made the transition feel pretty smooth, especially since a decent chunk of the readings for my classes are in English.
After my Temas de América Latina class, I have an hour and a half lunch break where I typically hang out in the grass next to the beautiful lagoon on campus. It’s probably my favorite spot at USFQ. There are trees, boulders, and a nice Japanese style building with a porch. Even though everyone flocks here to relax, there are always enough spots to find your own space and (sometimes) enjoy the sun.
After my break I head to my Economic Anthropology class, my favorite of the semester. As we’ve discussed different theories of the economy, value, and human nature, I feel like my critical thinking skills and ability to read in Spanish have improved quite a bit. I also feel like I’ve grown a lot more comfortable contributing to conversations, since the class is small and everyone is very friendly. The professor, who also happens to be from the US, does a really good job of creating a warm atmosphere and building rapport with the students.
At the end of the day, I head home on the bus, which is luckily only a 5-10 minute ride away. I walk down the hill from the bus stop and into the house, where my host mom sometimes has me try something she’s experimenting with in the kitchen. After a little snack I head up to my room and work on my assignments until dinner with my host parents. After another typical day, I don’t always have anything new to share, but luckily my bubbly host mom is always filled with stories.
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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. :)