It is impossible to imagine how your life will change before it actually
does. You throw yourself in, full of ideas and images of a world beyond
your own, yet devoid of actual knowledge of what exists. Before the jump,
changing everything seems purely adventurous — even glamorous. Yet, I have
found that the landing is far more difficult, and far less glamorous than I
could have understood.

I have learned, quickly, that days are so incredibly long. In every day
there exists adventure and glamour, but, for the majority of the time,
there exists simply the ordinary. For me, the challenge comes with
accepting this time, and not letting it go to waste. My life in
Massachusetts was undoubtedly faster and more rigorous by nature than my
life in Ecuador. Throughout high school I often wished I had more free
time. I felt dragged down by hours of homework and extracurriculars. I
coveted an hour in front of the television, free of responsibility and with
nowhere to be. Well, here I am. All of my wishes have been granted. My time
is overwhelmingly my own and all I can think is how I wish I had someone
telling me what to do with it. Thus, with not much in terms of prescribed
work to keep me occupied, I find myself attempting to figure out what it is
that I actually like to do.

I had forgotten how much I truly love to read. Years of schooling had
drained me of the desire to open a five hundred-page book and not want to
put it down. For the first time in a long time I consistently choose a book
over my phone or the television. This excites me, but I am also
increasingly weary of the fact that I have only brought four books, and I
am nearing the end of my third. From this worry grows the fiery desire to
be able to read the type of literature which I so enjoy in Spanish, a goal
which I recognize is a few months away but that I am nevertheless excited
to tackle.

I have taken to walking. Even with nothing to do, my biological clock wakes
me at the bright and early hour of 6AM every morning without fail. From
this frustrating truth I have been able to find a time of peace and
bonding. Each morning I walk my youngest host sister to the bus stop with
my host mom, and we continue to walk after dropping her off. Sometimes it’s
for 20 minutes, sometimes 2 hours. There is such beauty in the fact that we
are not rushing back to anything. We walk, we talk (well she talks, I
mostly just nod and say “claro” over and over), and when we are tired, we
go home.

I quickly realized that my journal is simply not large enough. In the month
since I began this journey I have written a truly ridiculous amount. This
too, I have rediscovered. I have always enjoyed writing, but it has never
been an outlet as it is now. When I cannot seem to express the words and
feelings that I need to in Spanish, which is a large majority of the time,
my journal acts as my best (English speaking) friend. I write, not only
because there is often nothing else for me to do, but also because there is
nothing so relaxing and therapeutic. If you ever plan to change everything
about your life, make sure you allow yourself the space to write it down.
Finally, with all the time in the world, I have allowed myself the
privilege of never having to say no to an invitation. I go to every family
event, every trip to the park, every short trip to the bread shop, and
every church service. I cannot hide behind homework or too little sleep.
When I decide not to do something, it is because I do not want to do it,
not because I cannot. This, I believe, is truly a way to live.

Although this amount of free time is consistently a challenge for me, I am
also incredibly grateful. I have found the space that I need to start to
figure out who I am. Although this is a frightening and frustrating journey
now, I know that this is a knowledge I will be fortunate enough to reflect
on and carry with me throughout the busier times of my life.

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