We have finally arrived in Quito, Ecuador after having our flight be delayed for another 5 days. We had been staying in Berkley, California which was different enough from my home to already give me some sense of culture shock as I have never been in a place like Berkley.
Looking back at it all now I’m glad to have had that experience in Berkeley. It gave our cohort some time to finally be able to bond since we are such a large group. I had finally learned everyone’s names. I made some really great close friends that I definitely need while going on this trip abroad. Our friendships with each other and with everyone in this cohort wouldn’t have been as strong as they are now had we not gone to Berkeley. I had also spent my 18th birthday in Berkley which turned out to be one of my best ever.
When we arrived to Quito we were all so tired from traveling for 24 hours. We were all staying together in a small hostel in San Patricio. This time together in a close proximity environment also brought us closer together. I had a couple struggles this week while in Quito. I remember the first was when we did a drop off activity in the city kind of like a treasure hunt. I had been sick for the past week and wasn’t feeling too up to walking around a big city. At the end of the activity I remember basically just wanting some time alone for the first time in the past three weeks ever since Stanford. As I sat by myself on the bus and listened to some music I started to feel better. My attitude had completely changed by the time we arrived at they hostel. I realized that sometimes you just need a moment alone to get your attitude back where you want it.
After three days of team building activities we were sent off with our host families in Quito. It was a little worrying at first because of course you’re wondering how it will be living with a family that doesn’t speak your native language. You realize at the end of that week though that even though you can’t communicate perfectly you still build these relationships that you never thought you’d be able to. We went to class everyday until around 12:30. One of these days we visited a few local markets. It was a good opportunity to view how some things are different from back home.
Usually after class we would have an hour or two for lunch and then meet somewhere in Quito to do more team building activities.
During one of those exercises was another time I struggled with something. The day we learned about our placements in Ecuador and our apprenticeships was a day full of so many emotions. At first I was so happy to learn my closest friends were going to be in the southern region with me, while I was also upset to find out that some others I had hoped would be my region were actually going to be across country. If learning this didn’t provoke enough emotions, I soon found out that I had received the number one apprenticeship that I didn’t want. Working with kids. Learning this had pushed my feelings over the edge. I just needed time to process everything but in the moment it was too much to handle. The next day I was better able to handle the news but still wasn’t in the spirit I wanted to be in since I knew many of my friends were going to be in the North while I’d be in the South. In the following days we all had in mind that we’d be splitting up soon so we tried to find the time to spend together as often as possible. The last night as a group we had a dinner together and also a small talent show. That night was full of many tears.
Writing this now I have completed my first week living in my new home for the next seven months. Things I have learned: I am the only gringa in my whole city; My family is the number one example of how to function on Ecua-time; I need to buy some new clothes or I’m going to freeze, and finally I’ve learned that this new family I have here already cares about me as if I’m one of their own. On one of my days here I had the wonderful opportunity of getting sick because of something I ate. When I told this to my host mom in the morning she was wondering why, at 12am, I didn’t go and wake her up to tell her something was wrong. That following day I ended up getting a really bad migraine and had to spend most of my time that day in my room. Every time I came out and saw a family member they asked me if I was feeling better or if there was something they could do to help me. I look forward to seeing how things continue because I know that amidst all my struggles I’ll be able to find many things to be grateful for.
Stay tuned for the start of my apprenticeship… yay!