I have lived in Quito for about a month now and it is pretty crazy to think about how fast everything has happened. Time is such a strange concept while studying abroad. While I feel like I just said goodbye to Holland, I also feel like I have adjusted to life here and that this Ecuadorian existence is just a part of who I am. It’s also weird to think that there are only three and a half months left of living abroad. At the beginning, four and a half months sounded like eternity. Now that one month is over, it seems like the end of the semester will be here before I know it. That being said, as a few friends and I discussed the other day, being all in is crucial. We don’t have as much time as we think we do this semester, so we need to be present. My friend Sarah told us her favorite quote, “Wherever you are, be all there,” and it couldn’t be a more accurate phrase for studying abroad.
My previous posts have been more about my travels, so I thought that I would share what a typical day looks like for me. Really there is no typical day in Ecuador because there is always something unexpected that happens, whether it’s a sudden down pour or a unique interaction with a local. Life is not typical here, but I will try to give you a picture of what my days are like.
Every morning I am served the same breakfast: scrambled eggs, natural orange juice, coffee, and a bowl of fresh fruit (my favorites here are kiwi and pineapple). After breakfast, I gather my things and head out for school. I am taking all of my classes at the IES center, which is about a 15 minute walk from my apartment. I take two to three classes everyday, each one focused on Ecuadorian culture/society. There are 11 of us in the program, which has made building relationships a breeze. We each have such different personalities, but have become so close because of this shared experience. My professors are all very understanding, kind, and definitely patient when we all struggle to put our thoughts into a different language.
After class I eat lunch (depending on the day I either go home and eat with my host mom and some of her family or I bring lunch to school). Some days I’m done after lunch and have the freedom to explore around the neighborhood, meaning trying out new coffeeshops, walking around the park, or if we’re being really honest, getting dessert. Other days I go to my service learning placement.
One of my classes is called Service Learning and it has a volunteer requirement of 80 hours throughout the semester. My placement is at Fundación Extreme Response, a daycare for children ages one through five whose parents work in the garbage industry. My job is to help out where needed, usually playing with the kids or doing a bit of cleaning around the center. The boys and girls are all adorable and high energy! I haven’t had a ton of experience with toddlers, so it’s a new experience for me, but one that I’m enjoying and am grateful for. It’s a good place to improve my Spanish by interacting with the kids and the employees and I get to observe more aspects of Ecuadorian culture. I go to the daycare six hours a week and so far it has been my favorite “class”.
At the end of the day, I usually go back to the apartment to do homework, journal, FaceTime friends and family, etc. and eventually have some dinner (most likely chicken and rice). My daily schedule has been different from in the U.S. because usually when I’m at Hope I have classes, chapel, meetings, group projects, work, and a number of other commitments, but here I have a lot of free time. I think it’s a good reflection of Latin American culture, where everything is laid back and rest is essential in each day. I like the independence and freedom that comes with my schedule, but I think a part of my North American self misses the busyness. I can’t complain though, because I have so much time to explore on my own and to be more invested in the culture.
So that’s a loose description of my day to day life, but again, there are always situations that come up, making every day special and memorable. This new life that I’m living feels more normal now, which is a pretty great feeling to have. I hope that with each day I sink deeper into the feeling of normality and comfort and that Ecuador becomes another one of my homes.