Changes

Charlotte Reider-Smith - Ecuador


July 16, 2015

This post is a sort of accompaniment to my previous post titled “I’m Confident.” I wrote near the beginning of March ‰Ò I was told I would change. That‰Ûªs what everyone said about Global Citizen Year – they changed, you would find change in yourself. I didn‰Ûªt entirely believe this. My U.S. family visited me a week ago – and I started to notice changes in myself.

I‰Ûªm confident.

(–> see my past blog post titled “I’m Confident” for more about this!)åÊ

I‰Ûªm tranquilo / go with the flow

When my U.S. family came to visit me, I found myself saying ‰ÛÏtranquilo‰Û a lot to my dad. Tranquilo means relax, be calm, chill out. My U.S. parents were very plan-oriented, like most North Americans I know (like me more when I arrived in Ecuador). Plans don‰Ûªt exist in the same way in Ecuador. It‰Ûªs flowy, things change, and the concept of time is a lot looser (music festival says it starts at 8? probably means 9:30). We planned to go to the Mojanda Lagoon with both my U.S. and Ecuadorian families. My U.S. family got to the house (of my ecuafam) all ready to go to the lagoon. We ended up sitting in the house for a few hours, eating lunch, sitting around some more, and then finally our uncle Roberto came to pick us up and take us to Mojanda. The waiting, not knowing when Roberto was coming, and sitting around was new for my U.S. family. They kept asking what was going on, what we were doing. I told them ‰ÛÏTranquilo, it‰Ûªll all work out.‰Û And it did. We eventually got to Mojanda, walked around the lake, and got home before dark. In Quito I took my U.S. family to the gondola that takes you to the base of Mt. Pichincha, where you can see all of Quito from above. My dad wanted to research it, see when it was open, make sure it was running, etc. I told him, ‰ÛÏTranquilo dad it‰Ûªll all work out. If the gondola is closed, tranquilo, we‰Ûªll find something else to do. If we get lost we‰Ûªll end up exploring more of Quito. It‰Ûªll all work out.‰Û And it did. The views were beautiful from Pichincha. P.S. There are some situations where things are very on time, situations when ecuatime is a lot more precise.

I know the direction I want my life to take (more or less).

I took a gap year for a ton of reasons that I‰Ûªm not going to list right now – but one reason being that I didn‰Ûªt know what I wanted to do. I was not ready emotionally for college. Here, the bits and pieces of my life seem to be falling into place. A few weeks ago at dinner with the Imbabura and Chimborazo cohorts, I realized that I knew so much more about what I want to do than I did when arriving in Ecuador. I am interested in languages and traveling. I love speaking Spanish, learning a new language, traveling. This will be a part of my life. I want to join the Peace Corps (need a college degree for that). A lot of Global Citizen Year staff spent time in the Peace Corp and I‰Ûªve met a few current Peace Corp volunteers in Ecuador. I crave another experience similar in some ways to my Global Citizen Year – maybe in the Peace Corps living in a foreign country learning a language, living with a family. So to be in the Peace Corp I need to graduate from college! That means that college is next up in my life, or maybe after a bit more time spent elsewhere‰Û_

I have a new family.

A family that I love tremendously and will definitely come back to visit. Vini, who always jokes about me being a vegetarian and stays up until we get home at night. Toki, who always sits with me at the table and laughs with me about Sebas. Ojitos, who is always blasting Bob Marley through the house. Gaby, who tells me everything about her life, makes me juice and takes me to San Pablo. Dolo, who shares every detail, sleeps in my bed every so often, and makes funny videos with me – oh and takes a lot of selfies. Sebas, who still follows me around the house, wants to do everything with me, and shows me new songs.

I have new friends.

Friends that I will miss and hope to come back and visit in Ecuador. I have new friends across the States that share parts of this experience.

I can speak Spanish.

A few times a taxi driver has thought that I was from Ecuador by hearing my accent! (I definitely look like a foreigner.)

I understand better the areas of myself that I need to work on.

Being here, not thinking about school 24/7 gives me time to think. I‰Ûªve thought a lot and observed a lot. I notice things about myself that I have not before.

I‰Ûªm inspired to explore the rest of the world, the rest of my life.

Charlotte Reider-Smith