My 5 Lessons

Sophia Comer


January 4, 2018

Just recently I’ve felt like I’ve moved out of survival and learning mode, and into a mentality where I feel like I can create. So here l am, 4 months into my Global Citizen Year experience, I’ve been thinking about what I might write about for quite a while. What is worth the, what I see is slightly egotistical, expression of my experience so far. 
So what I’ll do is first share 5 things I’ve learned during this seemingly endless but simultaneously impossible fast moving experience
1. I don’t want to be the stereotypical gringo. In fact, I’ve come to disdain them.  I find experiencing the way the old white people disconnect with their surroundings and not in the slightest way attempt to adapt is disgusting. I hate their hiking gear in a fully paved city. I hate their obnoxious accents, which without reason are always the loudest voices in the room. I hate the way they think they must be accommodated by those who speak Spanish by refusing to learn their language. I also really don’t like their method of modern day colonization, gentrification. They see Cuenca, a colonial city, cheap for Gringo prices, and decide to buy up property, which in turn raises prices. Currently, Cuenca is the most expensive city in Ecuador. These people make me so embarrassed of my appearance and nationality. 
2. I’m really not that close to my extended family. Here, there is an incredibly admirable connection to family. And occasionally I have difficulty fully immersing myself because I’m really not used to it. Perhaps it’s just the time of year, but I’ve found it quite intense. For example, we had a huge family reunion, for Christmas, and the next week we had another. These reunions last for entire days and the entire time is high energy connection activities, mostly games or conversations. I love my family here, don’t get me wrong. But I  didn’t realize how intense this would all be for me. The next days I would always want to retreat to my room and have some time to myself cause I was so spent interacting. 
3. I’m very independent, more than the cultural norms here permit. This first became apparent to me when I started spending more time with Ecuadorian families and realized that people don’t move out of their family home until they get married. And they continue to be treated like an adolescent. And here I am in an entirely different country without my parents at 18. I’m also more used to everyone in the family home doing their own thing, each of us independently enjoying ourselves as we please. But here people spend much more time together. I think spending time alone here sometimes seems a bit weird and I occasionally feel uncomfortable about this urge of mine. 
4. I really don’t think I can be embarrassed anymore. Here, I’ve done and said the most embarrassing things. I sang Irreplaceable by Beyoncé on a microphone in front of this whole family while we were playing a game called Yo Me Llamo, where one pretends to be a famous person and sings like them. Learning a language you also say the most embarrassing things on accident. For example, I said “Estoy embarazada”, thinking this word was a cognate and meant embarrassed. The meaning of embarazada in spanish, however, is pregnant, and made for a hilarious mix up. When I was younger, everything made me embarrassed, I over thought and was anxious about just about everything. Now, I realize that very little in life needs to be taken that seriously. Therefore I have acquired an inability to do so. 
5. The best meals are usually the ones that give you stomach infections. Enough said. 

Sophia Comer