Expecting to Expect Nothing in Ecuador

Thomas Hotaling
January 4, 2019

Hello to everybody who may be reading this! My name is Thomas Hotaling, and I am a geology and environmental studies student at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. About a year ago I decided that I should spend a semester in a place that is the exact opposite of Cleveland in every way, which I determined to be Ecuador and the Galapagos. As much as I love where I go to college, I couldn’t be more thrilled to trade in the eternal cloudy sky for a place that has often been described as a paradise. While I’m there, I will be participating in the People, Politics, and the Environment track, which fits very well into both my interests and program.

In just a few short days, I will be in a completely new continent living with a new family and taking classes with new people, and I could not be both more excited and more nervous. To be honest, I haven’t quite figured out exactly what to think about this impending trip due to the severely contrasting emotions that have arisen, including but not limited to exhilaration, curiosity, confusion, timidity, elation, and of course, shear concern. For better or for worse, this has all combined to make me procrastinate in preparing mentally for this trip. Don’t get me wrong, I did plenty of work to make sure that I could physically go on this trip. Just securing a student visa probably gave me enough stress to take a couple years off of my life. However, I’m a little surprised at myself for not doing as much research about Ecuador as I would have done for any other trip, and even though I have taken Spanish since middle school, the subjunctive tense still gets me. In the end, this may not have been a terrible thing. I am a firm believer in having almost no expectations and having a totally clear slate when going into a trip like this. I have been on several service trips and international trips before, and I have seen first hand how some people’s expectations have completely altered the way they perceive the trip and prohibited true learning from the experiences.

It’s easy to speak in generalities and clichés with an experience of this scope. It is my goal to reflect upon this experience with as much detail and as accurately as possible, and I hope to get some great pictures and memories along the way. As I plunge into the unknown I will be expecting to expect nothing and am ready to meet these challenges head on.

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Thomas Hotaling

<p class="MsoBodyText" style="margin-top:.4pt; margin-right:21.05pt; margin-bottom:.0001pt; margin-left:5.5pt"><span style="line-height:103%">Hello! My name is Thomas, and I’m from St. Louis, Missouri and currently am a second year at Case Western Reserve University. I like to think of myself as an avid outdoorsman, and you can often find me backpacking or just having fun outside, and I’m even a summer camp nature counselor. I'm currently studying environmental geology because rocks are the absolute coolest, and if you don't believe me I'd be happy to share my opinions with you.</span></p>

Home University:
Case Western Reserve University
St. Louis, MO
Environmental Studies
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