This famous Beatles tune sticks in my head now as I reflect on my last few days in Ecuador, and my first few in the US.
Though I knew I would get attached to my host country, I didn’t really realize until the very end the extent of that. I was ready to go home, I thought, and didn’t even really feel the need to be sad at the IES farewell dinner. It wasn’t until my Ecuadorean friends took me out to dinner on the Panecillo on my last night to say goodbye that the reality of it sank in. I love Ecuador. And though I was homesick for America a lot, at that point, Ecuador had been more of my home this year than America, as in, I had spent more time in Ecuador consecutively than I had the US. I realized I was scared to come home, devastated to leave my beautiful host country, my host family, and friends I had made. I did not think this sort of attachment to my study abroad experience to happen to me! Despite the challenges, homesickness, and occasional dangers, these last five months were some of the most beautiful, real, and authentic times I’ve had in my life. I learned a lot about my own personal agency, sense of independence, and, away from the familiarity of friends and family at home, got to see how I did being dropped in a foreign country and given the task of creating another life for a semester.
It was anything but easy, but it was every bit worth it.
Needless to say, I cried my way out of my house and into the taxi that last night, feeling like a chapter of my life was closing too soon, but knowing I was not leaving the chapter without resolve.Merely a cliff hanger, for I know I’ll be back some day. The pull of the mountains, the food, and the culture are too strong to resist forever.
Coming back to America, I definitely experienced, and am still experiencing, reverse culture shock. Here are some of the things I noticed
- I couldnt understand spoken English, especially with a southern accent. When I landed in Texas I had a much harder time listening to and understanding the English PA announcements, so I defaulted to the Spanish ones
- Americans are LOUD
- Americans are impatient
- I still have to consciouslly remind myself that it’s ok to flush toilet paper now (you can’t flush it in South America)
- So much of our food here is packaged, individually wrapped in some sort of plastic. Which is really strange and a little off putting after eating the freshest, de campo (from the field) food for the last half year.
Regardless, I’m sure I’ll eventually make the adjustment back to this old way of life. I miss Ecuador more than I ever thought I would, and am surprised at how much I found myself feeling at home on both sides of the hemisphere this year. The world “home” has, one could say, been redefined for me.
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<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);">I'm studying studio art, entrepreneurship/social enterprise and international studies at Wake Forest University (Go Deacs!). Born and grew up in Canada by Malaysian born parents, I've always had an awareness of other cultures, countries, and customs. I've always wanted to travel South America and after spending the summer interning in Lima and volunteering in Kenya, I am excited to stay in one country for a while and live out some new adventures. I enjoy everything about the outdoors--camping, rock climbing, hiking, biking, running, hammocking, and have recently taken up surfing while in Lima. I also love all things art-design, painting, photography, and film, and hope to be able to share my experiences in Quito through my words and images.</span></p>