The first week in my homestay here in Ibarra, Ecuador I felt myself riding an emotional rollercoaster like never before. The days were filled with random spurts of intense waves of realization of my situation. I am here. In Ecuador. I will not see my family for eight months. I have no idea what is going on. What has happened to my life? What did I sign myself up for? I don’t know what is going to happen today. Or tomorrow. Or next week. Or next month. OH MY GOD.
I needed to find an outlet for my emotions. A way to unleash the overwhelming feelings that I experienced on a daily basis. To cope, I took the advice of fellow Fellows and began to journal religiously. I wrote the daily happenings of my strange, new life like it was my job. Dedicating thirty minutes every morning to my ragged notebook, I recounted everything.
But it wasn’t enough. I needed outside inspiration. I needed to know that my daily trips around Lydia’s Personal Six Flags weren’t the first signs a culture-shock induced mental illness. I wanted reinforcement that others have also chosen to traveled down an untraveled path.
And so began “Inspirational Tidbits,” a Word document I created with inspirational quotes from family, friends, and famous dead authors. I compiled pieces of advice from emails, Facebook messages, snail mail letters, QuoteGarden.com, phone conversations, books, and other sources that sparked my interest.
Here are some of my favorite quotes:
1. This year will prepare you better than anything a classroom could have. You won’t be worse off for not having been in a classroom for a while. -Cameron Kaufman
2. HAVE THE BEST TIME OF YOUR LIFE! BECAUSE, IT IS. -Abigail Hindson
3. Oh, poop. Everyone has poop problemz. #poop -Wise Global Citizen Year Alum
4. You will undoubtedly end up in ridiculous situations that seem impossible (on a bus going in the wrong direction, stranded on an island, lost in the jungle etc.). Even if these times may seem difficult and horrible and all manner of unfortunate things, they often wind up to be the best stories and memories of all (believe it or not). -Abigail Hindson
5. The first couple of months for me were filled with ups and downs so not to worry if you experience a lot of this – remember, you can’t necessarily have the ups without the downs. -Peter Saudek
6. Always keep some toilet paper handy. Trust me on this one…you’ll need it. -Abigail Hindson
7. It won’t always be easy, but in all the ways that matter it will be so good. -Betsy Donohue
8. People are always asking about the good old days. I say, why don’t you say THE GOOD NOW DAYS? -Robert M. Youn
9. Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors. -African Proverb
10. We are human be-ings, not human do-ings. It is enough to simply be here. -Someone…somewhere…
11. We can throw stones, complain about them, stumble on them, clim over them, or build with them. -William Arthur Ward
12. Don’t be afraid to be a fool. -Dani Livneh
As my coveted document has continued to grow I have felt my cliché-ness grow as well. I used to make fun of the cheesy quotes about reaching for the moon and falling amongst the stars etc but now I have a life that is totally applicable to those quotes. Before this experience my daily preoccupations consisted of my next test grade and whether or not I would have time to go to the gym. But these days I get preoccupied thinking about the curriculum I will be teaching tomorrow, whether or not I have a parasite, and what are effective ways of development.
These quotes provide me with the inspiration I need to get though the weeks, to keep looking forward. They remind me that I am not alone in this journey and that there are so many people who have felt what I feel.
Today I printed the document and hung it on my wall. Now when I wake up in the morning the first thing I see is inspiration.
And I always carry extra toilet paper.