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Excited, Overpacked, and Bound for South America

January 4, 2018

It's really happening... The moment I havent stopped talking about for the past three months is finally here. Tomorrow I will be heading to Quito, Ecuador where I will begin my semester abroad. I will be spending the next four months in Ecuador; one month in Quito and the following three in the Galapagos Islands. I do not think I will ever truly be able to put down in words my level of excitement for this trip, nor the value of the experiences I will have, but I will try my best to do both in this blog that I will keep up throughout my journey. 

For those of you who don't know me, my name is Peyton Moore, and I am a junior at the University of South Carolina majoring in Marine Science with a minor in Economics. I am originally from St. Louis, Missouri, but despite my landlocked hometown I have grown up with a deep love of the ocean. I have always wanted to be a marine scientist since the age of two when I first saw a whale. From that day forward, I have been obsessed with all things pertaining to the ocean, so when it came time for me to choose a destination for study abroad, the Galapagos Islands were an easy choice. The islands are a territory of Ecuador, and lie about 1000km from the western coast of South America. My time there will be spent on San Cristobal, one of many islands in the archipelago. In both Quito and San Cristobal, I will also be living with host families allowing me to be fully immersed in the language and culture that awaits me. 

I have been lucky enough to have already had experiences outside the U.S., but this will by far be my longest and most exciting adventure yet. My first experience out of the country was a summer spent studying in Cantabria, Spain. In one fell swoop I fell in love with adventure, travel, and culture, and have been hooked ever since. I've never been one to back down from a challenge, and for me every new adventure is just that, an opportunity for me to push myself to go beyond my comfort zone and let in all the "new" the world can offer me.

In high school, I fell in love with a quote that I think about often, but especially when preparing to push my limits. 

"Vulnerability is the only authentic state. Being vulnerable means being open, for wounding, but also for pleasure. Being open to the wounds of life means also being open to the bounty and beauty. Don’t mask or deny your vulnerability: it is your greatest asset. Be vulnerable: quake and shake in your boots with it. The new goodness that is coming to you, in the form of people, situations, and things can only come to you when you are vulnerable, i.e. open." 

 -Stephen Russell 

For me this quote sums up nearly every emotion I have as I aproach this trip. Like I said before, I am extremely excited for this trip, but it would be a lie for me to claim that feeling nervous isn't a part of that. For some, I think feeling nervous is seen as a sign that something is wrong. However for me, I know they mean I am doing something right. If I wasn't nervous, it would mean I wasn't pushing myself, I wasn't taking full advantage of the oppportunities afforded to me, and allowing myself to be vulnerable. Embracing this neccessary and sometimes uncomfortable state, is the only New Year's resolution I set for myself this year. I am challenging myself to be mindful, present, and open to everything and everyone I will encounter these next few months. My goal is to be a human sponge, so that I might be able to soak up as much of my surroundings as possible. I trust that if I am truly able to give myself up to the experience of it all, I will find more bounty and beauty than I could ever hope for. 

With love and much more to come, 

Peyton 

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