As someone who has barely left my hometown, I would say I'm not versed in international travel. Preparing for the Galapagos Islands has been a time of many firsts. My first time considering going abroad. My first time applying for a passport. My first time applying for a student visa (and failing). My first time buying a plane ticket, and, in four days, my first time on a plane going through TSA.
Ever since I was accepted into the program, I have felt a storm of emotions from excitement, frustration, confusion, nervousness, and curiosity. The post office near me would only accept passport applications when I would often be in class and accidentally charged me twice for my passport. The visa was another frustration on its own. I was luckily able to get fingerprinted through my job but was stalled to continue the process because I couldn't reach anyone at the consulate. I would call my IES Abroad advisor panicking that I wouldn't be able to go because I wouldn't have the visa in time. Luckily, there is a plan B. I'll be entering Ecuador with an extended tourist visa.
I am practically bursting at the seams arrive in Ecuador. I've been improving my Spanish speaking skills this summer, checking off items on the packing list and trying to figure out how to budget for 4-5months. The packing list is extensive by the way. I would say it's a hidden financial cost to acquire everything on it. I went to friends and thrift stores to cheapen it.
My nervousness stems from the unfamiliarity of travel and traveling to a new country. I often ponder how I'll handle the language barrier or adjust to the new culture. How different will the class structure be from my home university? Will I get along with the students in my program and host family? Is there a store like Target or Walmart there and will it have my brand of shampoo? How will the locals view me? Will I get better at swimming before my Marine Life class or re-enact a Jaws scene (sharks aren't as aggressive as seen in the movies)?
In four days I will step off a roughly 11-hour flight into Ecuador and my questions will be answered. I'll be starting a new chapter in my life. I hope it's an adventurous one.