Lists y Lista: Ready for a Lifetime Experience

Tabitha Ato
August 12, 2019

Bienvenidos a todos a mi blog y estoy emocionada para compartir mis experiencias en Ecuador con ustedes. (Welcome everyone to my blog and I am excited to be sharing my experiences of my time in Ecuador with you all). I leave tomorrow morning, and I still feel like I have another month to spend at home. My name is Tabitha Ato, and I am a senior (I still cannot believe it!) at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., but I call Oakdale, Minnesota, home. I am a public health major and Spanish minor, and I feel fortunate and blessed that I get to study in a new country and end my undergraduate career embarking on this great adventure.

From the time I took my first high school Spanish class, I knew I would love to continue studying Spanish at some capacity in college; and eventually study abroad in a Spanish-speaking country. I am truly grateful that this opportunity did not pass me by and that I can finally cross it off my bucket list (No puedo expresar mi gratitud).

Over the past few months, as I did a bit of research in anticipation of this great experience, I made sure not to look for more than the basic information I needed to know. I did this because I want my time abroad to be uncontaminated by biases, fears, and speculations. This is one of the reasons why I decided to study abroad in Ecuador, as it is one of the few Latin American countries I knew the least about.

As I spend the next four months in Quito, I am full of mixed emotions—joy, nervousness, a bit of fear, and hope that this experience will be as great as everyone says it will be. During the Fall 2019 semester, I will be enrolled in the Direct Enrollment program, which I consider an enormous accomplishment for myself. I have enjoyed learning Spanish in my classes, in which I have progressed so much. I am elated to further challenge myself by taking two literature courses, a course in biostatistics, and a service learning course, all with other native students at the university. I am sure this experience will exponentially increase my knowledge of the language and culture.

In preparation for this life-altering experience, my only hope is that this will be a time of learning, growth, and many chances to step outside my comfort zone. With a day left before my flight to Quito, I am crossing things off my numerous to-do lists, reading on Ecuadorian customs and traditions, and drinking so much tea to relax.