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Once Before in Ecuador

August 7, 2017

Welcome to my blog! Here I will document my ecuadorian experience through pictures of various mediums (such as colored pencil, sharpie, or whatever crusty ink pen I can find at the bottom of my backpack).

If you are reading this, I can assume you fit into either of these two categories: One, you are interested in Ecuador or the process of study abroad. Nice! We have something in common already. Two, you know me personally and want to keep up with my travels- especially to make sure that I’m not getting bitten by snakes or contracting Zika. (Hi, Mom!)

If you are part of the first group, here’s a little bit about my background. I am a student at Pacific Lutheran University, a small liberal arts college in Tacoma, Washington. Perhaps it’s my open mind, my love of the outdoors, or my constant coffee cravings- but I tend to identify closely with the “Washingtonian” stereotype. Hence, I included some Pacific Northwest flair in my  little self-portrait.

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Albeit my enthusiasm for home, I have always had an interest for away. Growing up, I was fortunate to have parents that exposed me to other parts of the country, and family members that inspired me with tales of adventures abroad. It was 10th grade that I got my first opportunity to travel outside North America. Naturally, that trip was a pivotal point in my life. In a short span of two weeks, I encountered a fascination with new foods, a curiosity for other cultures, and a love of foreign languages. Upon my return, I carried these interests with me, and continued on to select a university with which I could pursue Spanish and study abroad. As such, I credit that trip for leading me down a path of growing worldliness.

As hinted to by the title, that trip was to Ecuador! Now that I am preparing to live there for 5 months (During my last year of college at that!), the synchronicity is clear as day. Funny how things come full-circle, huh? Without getting too philosophical, I want to treat this return as if it really were destines, in order to take full advantage of everything it has to offer. And I know I can... I’ve done this before!

I studied abroad last year in Granada, Spain, and I enjoyed myself so much it’s sick. Studying in Europe comes with it’s many *legitimate* cliches, and I lived up to them shamelessly. Yes, I took advantage of the nightlife. Yes, I took selfies in front of thousand-year-old monuments. And yeah, I did spend the larger percentage of my time with other students from the states. So what? No regrets. I met some of the best friends I’ve ever had, and gained awareness of how many times I say “oh my gawddd” in a day. Plus, it’s not like my peers and I didn’t try to be more culturally immersed. In reality, it was extremely difficult to associate ourselves with locals when there were slim to none at our international school! This in mind, I chose to study in Ecuador so that I could do a direct enrollment at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito. There, I hope to be surrounded with more locals and engage myself even deeper in the culture.

Until I leave, I will not be able to compare my two study abroad experiences. However, I can do my best to utilize my prior knowledge during preparation. In terms of pre-departure, I know now to stress less. This can be specifically applied to packing, the bane of a long term trip. Just like the study abroad experience in general, it’s impossible to know everything before you get your feet on the ground. In Spain, I showed up with the right clothes for the climate, but wrong for the culture. (Wearing a dress or skirt without tights?? Too scandalous!!) That being said, I do my best based on input from prior students. Overall, I’ve packed for a varied climate, with clothing that is casual, but not sloppy. If I have it all wrong, that’s nothing that can’t be remidied with some shopping upon arrival *Which is also some incentive for packing light.*

Just as I try not to clutter my suitcase, I intend not to clutter my mind. I am aweare of my preconceptions and expectations, but don't want to lean too heavily on them. As for right now, estoy tranquila. Relaxed, and ready to start a new adventure. 

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