Well, it’s taken a few days but I think I am finally beginning to adjust to living in Ecuador. My last couple of days have been jam packed with orientation and exploring, of both Quito and Cumbayá, and I am loving every minute of it.
I flew into Quito last Saturday and I met some of the girls who would also be studying abroad through IES but would just be staying in Quito for the whole semester. Once I made it safely through customs, I was greeted by my host ‘mama’ Caty, and sister ‘Sofi’ holding a sign that read ‘Bienvenidos Baylie’ (aka ‘Welcome Baylie). Caty and Sofi drove me to their house where I will be spending the next month.
Since we didn’t start orientation until Monday, Sunday was a chance for all the IES students to get a chance to get to know their families a little better. My host family doesn’t know a lot of English so the first couple of hours trying to communicate was a bit of a struggle. I’m a Spanish major but I definitely overestimated my Spanish skills, and need to practice speaking more. Sofi showed me around the city of Cumbayá, before my host family and I headed to mass. I’ve never been to mass before, let alone in Spanish so it was a completely different experience for me. Most Hispanics are Catholic and attend mass regularly.
Study abroad orientation isn’t full of ice breakers like your typical college freshman orientation, but instead is a bunch of discussions about how to be safe in your new city, culture shock, how to deal with your host families, and information about the city and country itself. For lunch IES treated us to a wonderful four course meal, complete with all the different kinds of fruit juice imaginable and a view that is unparalleled. Three walls of the restaurant are windows so the entire time we were eating we could see the beauty of the mountains and of Quito.
That’s all I have for now.