Getting Stronger

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         I’m just gonna start this off by saying that October was an emotional and physical whirlwind. I probably experienced some of the most uncomfortable physical sensations I’ve had yet during my time abroad, mostly due to catching parasites (twice!) and having a lovely intestinal infection. But to be completely honest, October made me so much stronger. It was the first time I cried out of homesickness, the first time I started to feel connected to my host family, the first time I sang with my mom to Coldplay while making a beaded-flower bracelet. In my head, this month is a bunch of colors all splattered onto a canvas, and it’s beautiful. To me, the sadness I felt makes me realize how much I love my family and friends back home. It’s made me value my closest friends and appreciate my parents for being strong, because I know that when I was sick all they wanted to do was care for me, but they couldn’t, and I know that must hurt. What I liked about October was that it felt real. 

        What’s even better is that lately I feel like I’ve been returning to the Sadie I used to be when I was in elementary school and wrote stories on the playground. I started drawing consistently, and now I do it everyday. I forgot how much I loved to create, and I’m rediscovering that passion again. I forgot how much I love to sing, and I feel so grateful here that my mom is always humming something. When we listen to songs together and end up harmonizing, its such a serene moment that makes me feel like I’m at home right where I am. Never doubt the power of singing, it somehow makes you close to people without even trying. 

        I think what I really got out of October was how to take care of myself. Living in Ecuador is a bit like living on your own. Obviously, I’m surrounded by a loving family, but for the first time I’m pretty much completely accountable for my own health and emotional state. I’d always been independent back home, but here there’s another level to it that I can’t quite explain. I’ve learned to advocate for myself and treat myself with respect. I’ve learned how to nail a doctor’s visit in Spanish, because I’ve been a handful of times. I’m practically best friends with the doctor at this point; he’s a true icon. (Don’t worry about me I’m parasite and infection free now and feeling great, knock on wood.)

        On a tangent, speaking of Spanish, it’s getting better! I have a long ways to go, but it’s so satisfying to be able to understand what people are saying when they talk to me. I can finally say more than just sí or no when responding to a question. I feel like I have more of an active role in conversation. One thing that has really come in handy is loving to listen. I’ve always been more of the person that absorbs what everyone else is saying instead of chiming in, and for once I think it’s helped me out. Listening to Spanish has played such a major role in my ability to both understand it and pick up on the local colloquialisms that make your Spanish a little bit more personal to Ecuador. My mom says I have to work on my r’s though, but hey I’ll be able to roll them eventually. For now, I still sound like a gringa, but a less ignorant gringa, and I’m cool with that.

        So that’s my October update. It was sometimes sad, sometimes beautiful, and always
​surprising. Love you all and talk to you soon.