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Brittany: Drowning in Spanish

September 2, 2010

Today was hard.

I had class from 9 am to 3:30 pm, and in order to understand what is happening I have to concentrate as hard as possible the entire time. It is unbelievable how exhausting that is. The students in the pre-session (they came a month early to take a Spanish course I already had) say that things will be easier after a few more days. I hope so.

Part of the reason it is difficult is that we have immediately jumped into school. I had a lot of reading homework tonight, and I have a Spanish placement test and a group oral presentation tomorrow. I’m definitely not the only one who feels overwhelmed. There are around 20 students in the group, and I think the majority feels how I do.

But CIMAS is taking all of us on a little trip for the weekend, so we’re all really excited about that! I don’t know many details except my host dad said it is warm, humid, really pretty and has really good food. It also means tomorrow is the last day of school for the week so sounds good to me!

I will post some more photos soon! It is a little tricky because it isn’t good to carry a lot of important things around with you, so I’m only sometimes bringing my computer and camera with me to school, but I’ll definitely have my camera this weekend.

To make up for this visually uninteresting post, some observations about Quito:

  • The mountain dominates the city, which sprawls out in a narrow-like shape along one side of the mountain. The city (and the mountain) is huge! It has at least a million people, although I think my host family’s god-daughter said 5 million. So I guess pick a number in between.
  • There are over a thousand species of butterflies here (and a zillion other things). Ecuador is a “mega-diversity” zone, along with only a few other countries in the world. I feel like they could have come up with a more authoritative, scientific sounding name than “mega,” but whatever.
  • The weather changes constantly! Today, for example, started out warm, and then it got cold for about half of the day, and then it rained, then it was like the most perfect fall day, and then it cooled off again.
  • I have never seen so many stray dogs in my life. Luckily they leave you alone.  Apparently they live in the trash… My host dad says Ecuador doesn’t have anything like Animal Control.
  • Speaking of trash, I have yet to see a trash or recycling receptacle anywhere outside.
  • The drivers are crazy! According to the US embassy guy, rules are (for the most part) followed differently in the United States. If you see someone run a stop sign or turn left from the right lane, you are totally pissed. But here in Ecuador he says people take the rules more as suggestions (at least with driving).
  • Drugs are different. Instead of “innocent until proven guilty,” it is the opposite here when it comes to drug-related offenses. You are guilty unless proven innocent. However, despite the drug powerhouses on either side of the country (Colombia and Peru) there apparently is not a big drug consumer market here.
  • On a happier note, I loooooove the fruit. They have more types of bananas than we do and so many other things I’ve never heard of. And all the juice is fresh. For example, my host dad offered me some tomato juice during breakfast today. He went over to the fridge, but instead of grabbing a carton of juice, he grabbed 2 tomatoes and then pulled out the blender. Delicious—and I don’t even like tomato juice.

–Brittany Libra

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