New Year, New Country

Katie Vartenigian
January 5, 2020

     It’s just a few days into 2020 and as with any new year, everyone is talking about their resolutions. Peloton ads fill every TV screen and Hulu ad break. Instagram is flooded with posts of resolution lists and pictures of couples being optimistic about “another year together! (insert heart emoji)”. 

       I’m laughably bad at keeping my own resolutions - I think last year I hit the gym for all of three days before giving up on wanting to get more in shape, and the year before I didn’t even use Duolingo for a week before deciding I don’t need to be fluent in French. It’s too easy to not do things to improve ourselves, and there’s always an excuse to go along with it. “I’m too busy, it’d be too expensive, etc, etc.” 

     But as I write this I’m one day away from getting on a plane to Ecuador for the next four months, and all of a sudden a lot of my past resolutions aren’t things I want to do anymore; they’re things I’m going to have to do. Learning a new language was always on the top of my list, and since my housing is a homestay I’ll definitely be learning some Spanish. Exercising and spending more time outside are part of my classwork, since the courses I’m taking include a lot of hikes. Putting aside more time to write comes with this blogger position. 

      The resolution I’ve made more often than any of these others was to travel. I have a little bit, but mostly just down the East Coast of the US. But now I’m travelling for real, and in the process also fulfilling many of the other resolutions I’ve made. 

      Anticipating all this helps calm some of the nerves of going on this trip, which is great because I’ve spent the day pacing around my room wondering what I forgot to pack (Do I need a third laptop charger as a backup? What if the first two break?). It also helps with saying goodbyes, which are much more difficult than packing. Leaving my family and my best friends at school, some of whom I won’t see until the Fall, is tough but seems worth it when I look at all I’ll be getting out of my study abroad experience. 

       Learning another language, getting outside more, and putting aside time to write are just a few things I’ve wanted to do to better myself in the past. I know this trip will change me for the better in countless other ways I couldn’t predict as well. Since I’m so close to leaving I’m going to put aside my nerves, check for the 27th time that I have my passport, and look forward to finally fulfilling some resolutions - both the ones I’ve thought of and the ones that will hit me when I get there. 


Katie Vartenigian

<p>My name is Katie Vartenigian, and I’m a third-year biology student at the University of Maryland. After graduation, I want to go into science writing, preferably for a publication that allows me to travel. When I’m not studying, I like to read, write, play racquetball, and spend time with my friends. I can’t wait to study abroad this semester in the Galápagos and explore Ecuador!</p>

Home University:
University of Maryland - College Park
Glastonbury, CT
Biological Sciences
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