A reminder

Jamie Smith - Ecuador


September 9, 2019

I am a procrastinator. In the days leading up to my flight to California I became depressive and withdrawn. My suitcase laid at the end of my bed empty. The journey loomed and I was left trying to imagine a life with the straws of information I had been given: 8 months in Ecuador, a mystery apprenticeship and a nameless family. 

In the previous weeks I saw friends from my old Secondary school getting their A-level results, and could obsessively recite their university acceptances. Bristol, Birmingham, Oxford, Southampton; with that the excitement of student accomodation, scrambling to find flat mates and the dive into the academic subject of their choosing. I was beginning to dive into a very different experience, one that began to feel completely out of my depth. Everything suddenly felt like a mistake. 

Was I writing off a year of my life? The ‘gap years are a waste of time’ mentality creeped back in, and I began to feel a little childish for investing my family in a dream that might never manifest into reality. 

Despite already being in Ecuador for a week, it was only when I was dropped off with my host family that it felt real. Not a word of English was spoken, I had never been to my host city and my Spanish skills were weaker than even my low expectations imagined. This however was the reason I applied. A year where it is encouraged to be uncomfortable, to think in a new language and explore a new country. There will be times when this experience might feel like a mistake, but maybe that’s why it’s worth it. 


Jamie Smith