The Start of a New Journey

Madison Hurley
January 18, 2017
My first few days in Ecuador have been great, I’m still pretty nervous to be in a different country but the excitement is starting to take over. This place is beautiful; everywhere you look there are so many trees and mountains. The view is absolutely breathtaking. I arrived in Ecuador on Friday January 13th. I’m not superstitious or anything but I have to admit I was a little skeptical flying on that day. Thankfully I made it to Ecuador and my host family was extremely welcoming. They speak a decent amount of English and for the first coupled of days that’s how we communicated while I was settling in. We are now in the process of communicating in Spanish so I can improve my speaking skills. Even though I am a Spanish minor I have been struggling a little communicating. I have that issue where I can understand but have troubles responding back. The thinking process of what to say is still too long for me. They are very sweet and I have this adorable host brother who is only three. I live in Cumbayá and am about a 5minute bus ride away from the university. I haven’t figured out how to take the bus yet since my host parents have been dropping me off and picking me up at the university. My First weekend in Ecuador included my orientation on Saturday and a free day on Sunday. On Sunday since I didn’t have any plans, my host family decided to take me to La Ciudad Mitad del Mundo, which is basically the equator. It costs around $7 to get into the plaza and you get access to the planetarium, restaurants, the museum and more. About in the middle of the plaza was this tall monument (which also happened to be the museum). Going through the center of the monument is a bright yellow line representing the equator. On the Northern Hemisphere side was a big N and on the Southern Hemisphere side was an S. It was pretty cool being in two hemispheres at the same time and I would absolutely go back if other students wanted to. All the IES Abroad students arrived the same day as me and I got to meet them all on Saturday. Monday an additional amount of students that didn’t go through IES Abroad arrived for our USFQ (Universidad de San Francisco de Quito) orientation and our first week of Spanish Class. I believe there are about 35 of us total in the program and then we are all split up amongst our chosen tracks. Each track (People Politics & Environment, Evolution Ecology and Marine Ecology) has their own field trips relate to their academic topics. All the field trips seem like experiences you can’t pass up, so some other students and I are trying to coordinate our own individual field trips to some of these locations before we head off to the Galápagos. I believe we leave February 12th or something. I can’t remember so I’ll have to look at the schedule. This first week Monday Jan 16th –Jan 20th we have our mandatory Spanish class from 2:00pm – 5:00pm. Being in class for three hours seemed annoying but it’s really not that bad. Friday morning USFQ is taking us on a Quito City Tour and then Saturday IES Abroad is taking us to the indigenous market “Otavalo”. I’m really excited to go to the market and plan on getting some presents for family members back home. I can’t believe the first week here is almost over; it makes me feel like this experience is going to go so fast. I haven’t gotten homesick yet but I’m sure after a few weeks in the Galápagos the homesickness will settle in. I’ve been texting my friends and boyfriend back home everyday which feels normal. It’s just not seeing them, that’s’ the weird part. I also don’t think its fully settled in that I’m going to be away from home for four months. Right now I feel like I’m on vacation and I’ll be home in a few weeks. I’ve gotten the chance to Skype my boyfriend and family back home which was nice and I’m going to try to do that at least once a week. For clothes I ended up bringing two pairs of jeans, three pairs of leggings, a mix between some long sleeves and short sleeves, tank tops, some nice tanks/shirts if I decide to go out, some shorts, about 4 bathing suits, a light weight jacket and a wind breaker for rain, two dresses (if I ever feel like wearing one), and the essentials. I brought my own toiletries, which will be half gone by the time I travel to the Galápagos, host gifts, my laptop and GoPro. I ended up having one checked bag that weighed about 43 pounds, a carry on suitcase and a backpack. For the flight to the Galápagos I’m hoping to use up some toiletries to drop weight in my check bag. I just want room for the things I’m going to buy in Quito and on the Islands. I’m having a lot of fun so far and can’t wait to get further into this adventure. This is going to be an experience of a lifetime.

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Madison Hurley

<p>Hello!! My name is Madison, I&rsquo;m Massachusetts made and currently a junior at the University of Maine majoring in Marine Science and minoring in Spanish. I love the ocean and can sometimes be a science nerd so I am really looking forward to spending my time in the Galapagos Islands, where Darwin happened to discover evolution. I enjoy drawing, taking photos with my GoPRo, and snorkeling/diving. Follow me to stay updated on my underwater adventures!</p>

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