Advice to Future Fellows

The past seven months in Ecuador taught me a lot. If I could go back in time to August and give advice to myself, this is what I would say.

Advice for Future Fellows:
  • Ecuador is so much colder than you think it is. Bring sweaters and warm socks.

  • Also bring things to do. Bring art supplies and running shoes and books to read. You’ll have a lot of free time that you won’t know how to spend.
  • Get ready to be a little spontaneous. This year will not go as planned, but hey, neither does life.
  • Don’t pet the stray dogs. They have fleas. You don’t want fleas. You don’t want fleas once and you definitely do not want them twice.
  • There’s gonna be weird Ecua-slang you won’t understand. Roll with it! Learning a new language is hard, don’t be afraid to make mistakes.
  • Pack a deck of cards, but be warned: an intense game of Cambio or Hearts can make or break friendships.
  • Pack a good first aid kit. You WILL need it. (I will say this once: antidiarrheals!)
  • Before you go, also stockpile on your favorite snacks. I’m disappointed to report that apparently this country doesn’t have Goldfish crackers.
  • Please do not go over the luggage weight limit. It’s really just not worth it.
  • You’re scared right now because you don’t know anyone else crazy enough to do this. But you will meet them. You will find people just as insane and brave as you are, and you will LOVE them. 
  • Ecua-time is a thing. Don’t fight it.
  • Trust the process.
  • Write it down. Don’t force yourself to journal every day if that’s not natural, find what works for you. But write down every detail of the good stuff, the bad stuff, the in-betweens stuff—you will want to remember this.
  • Call your family! They miss you.
  • Bring a phone charger with you everywhere. Invest now in a portable battery, it’ll save your life.
  • Talk to your TL! Be nice to your TL! Love your TL!
  • Ask questions. “And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” – Rainer Maria Rilke
  • Take pictures of moments, that’s what matters.
  • These friends will be with you for the rest of your life, cherish them!
  • Culture shock is hard, reverse culture shock is harder. Take your time and don’t be too hard on yourself.

  • This year will be a lot—a lot of joy, a lot of challenges, a lot of growth. Let it be what it is. Try not to force this year into being something it shouldn’t. It might be the best year of your life, it might be the worst. It’ll probably be somewhere in between. It’s not all black and white. Let it be just what it is—the in-between, the gray. You will find a way to make the best of it.