Regaining Confidence

Kate Paladin
March 24, 2014

A line in one of my favorite songs says “Only know you’ve been high when you’re feeling low.” Suddenly, this line rings true to me more than ever – I didn’t realize how wonderful everything was until I hit (hopefully) my lowest point of the trip.

I had an amazing day last Friday. Some friends and I went on a fabulous 4-hour hike into and around a volcanic crater. When my host Dad found out I didn’t each lunch on the hike, he surprised me with my favorite sandwich and hot tea. I went out for a relaxing dinner with another friend to celebrate the half-way point (!) of our semester here. Then, returning home, I was robbed. And not the pick-pocketing on the bus type.

Whilie I was walking the 2 blocks between my bus stop and my house, 2 men approached and pushed me into a dark corner. Threatening to kill me, they demanded I hand over all my money and my cell phone. After forfeiting all my belongings, I ran. Amazingly, 3 people stopped to ask if I was alright and how they could help.

There is a reason we’re told during orientation to take caution (and use taxis) at night. After 2 months in Quito I was overly confident, although in my defense the street was far from empty. Now though, I am too scared. I carry as little money with me as possible (generally less than $1). Its been a week and I still wince at every noise, am afraid of every person I brush against and try not to break into tears as I walk by the spot where I was robbed. I’m sure that I’ll return more-or-less back to normal, but for now I just need to work on rebuilding my confidence.

Despite my bad experience, I want to emphasize how friendly and nice (almost) everyone is here! I received help on the street almost immediately. My host parents made a special calming tea, stayed up late into the night promising everything would be ok and are insisting on driving me anywhere and everywhere regardless of the hour. Everyone has offered comforting words and additional support if I want it.

Crime happens everywhere, and halfway through the semester, I am the only person in the program to have experienced it in Quito. For every 1 person with bad intentions, there are hundreds of people with good ones. Up until the robbery, I had a fabulous time in Quito, and I am sure that the experience will continue to be great! But at the same time, I will unfortunately carry this event with me and it will affect the rest of my time abroad.

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Kate Paladin

<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);">My name is Kate Paladin and I&#39;m an Environmental Studies major, Math minor at Bates College. I am a research assistant studying lake ecosystems, volunteer in an elementary school classroom and perform Bollywood dance. Most people study Spanish and then decide to visit South America, but I did the reverse - after choosing Quito for study abroad, I took my first Spanish class! Although I have just 2 years of Spanish under my belt, I couldn&#39;t be more excited to study in Ecuador.</span></p>

2014 Spring
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