The Guinea Pig

Carolina Castillo - Ecuador


December 19, 2017

The Plan


Hey everyone my name is Carolina Castillo, and welcome to my blog!


The plan was to start blogging before arriving to Ecuador, but of course that didn’t happen. Why? Simple. Wait, no, it’s actually quite complicated…  let’s start from the beginning.

I had just graduated from Theodore Roosevelt High School, and was not your typical student. I was considered quite odd and crazy to a lot of my classmates. While they didn’t say it to my face, you didn’t have to be a genius to notice. In fact, I found myself agreeing with them at first.  As time passed I found my quirkiness to be true, and I liked it.

Why would I identify with words like odd and crazy? Well, for starters I wasn’t taking the “ traditional “ high school to college path. Instead I was embarking on a 8 month journey with Global Citizen Year. The process began in early December, with an extensive application and in January I was accepted granted a full scholarship. It was no easy choice, but thanks to my family and College Track community I came to a decision, I was going.

The Goodbye

Early Sunday morning on August 27th I left my home for San  Francisco where pre-departure was waiting for me at Stanford University. That morning was probably one of the toughest times I’ve had to overcome so far. My family is my world, so having to say “I’ll see you in 8 months!” was no joy. I still remember sobbing as I kissed my mom and dad goodbye, I cried on my way to the airport, on my way to Stanford, and practically the whole time at Stanford.

Pre-Departure at Stanford was meant to equip the roughly 130 Fellows with the necessary skills and tools before arriving in country. Skills such as self-care, mindfulness, and global citizenship. Although my time there was practically torture, remember winter break coming up, but your english teacher assigned three thick books to read? That's what being at Stanford was like, torture! I had never been in an environment where I didn’t know anyone. While fellows were getting to know each other I was calling friends back home and complain over the phone how I wanted to go home. I ranted on about how I rather be in my house, that I wanted to be with my 5”3 ft teddy bear James, and that a flight back home would be a great early birthday gift. It was a time where I was seriously considering leaving the program, I was deciding on backup plans, and excuses to leave. I kept saying what I now think was nonsense, like “Buy me a flight back home, I can work in McDonalds for an year instead!” and “I'll make my own gap year in Mexico!”  


Back to Square One

This all  leads us to our answer on why no blogs were being posted. I was debating  whether I wanted to stay. Taking the time to settle my thoughts and emotions was necessary.  I applied for this experience with a purpose and I am looking forward to so much personal growth. Allowing fear of change to get in the way of my experience would be foolish of me. After all, Lauryn Hill always says, “Anything that does not grow is dead.”



My name is Carolina and I’m your guinea pig for this gap year experience.



Fun fact: I wanted to name my first blog Guinea Pig from the very beginning and turns out guinea pig is actually a typical dish here in Ecuador.

Libre de virus. www.avast.com

Carolina Castillo