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Chelsea: Hola Ecuador!

September 5, 2011

I can’t believe I’ve only been here a week—it seems like forever! I feel like I have known some of my fellow students for years —not days! I am already accustomed to greeting my entire family with a kiss every time I enter / leave / wake up / go to bed that it seems natural! I no longer have to consciously think about not putting the toilet paper actually in the toilet (that one took some adjusting) or dread choosing between temperature or pressure when I shower. 

Luckily, I have a fantastic family! They have welcomed me with open arms and I already feel so loved. From the first day my mom here has called me “hija” (meaning daughter). Today, we went to see the panecillo, which is a huge statue in Quito dedicated to La Virgen del Panecillo that you can see from all parts of Quito! It was a tremendous view of the city! In the same area, there was also a festival of some sort where everyone was listening to music and flying kites! I had so much fun with my family there flying kites & just looking out at the mountains – just a typical Sunday.

This past weekend, we went on a 2-day trip with our program to San Miguel de los Bancos. It was such a beautiful place! In only a few kilometers of land there is more biodiversity than in the U.S. & Canada combined! Unfortunately we didn’t see too many animals, but did get the chance to see a few birds and some beautiful butterflies. It was such a relaxing weekend and an experience to bond our group of 29 together. I did some hiking in the mountains, relaxed at the pool, ate my weight in delicious food, and swam in a river, which happened to be a tad cleaner than the Mississippi…and with a much stronger current! 

Now: Pretend this next part was posted last Tuesday. It was saved as a draft, and due to a few computer issues, I wasn’t able to post it until now.

I still can’t believe I’m actually here —it’s definitely still completely surreal when I look outside and see mountains!

A few minor delays and such, but overall, pretty smooth travels here! I did learn that I might have packed a tad too much. Note: it is super embarrassing when you can barely fit in the elevator by yourself with your suitcases (but, in my defense, the elevator was small: capacity 6).

After a short night at a small hotel & some chaos figuring out where we should be/when, we all boarded a bus and arrived at our school in Quito. We had a long day of our orientation and were shown around the school (which is super nice!) and talked to about expectations, homework, etc. It was then that I realized I was actually taking classes here, yikes. I definitely have not transitioned into school mode and I have a presentation in 2 days!

We had a traditional Ecuadorian lunch (some type of potato soup, corn nuts, fruit, etc.) before meeting our host families, which was a bit nerve racking!

I am already completely in love with my family! My parents, Roberto and Lincango, are quite possibly the sweetest people ever and are so excited to have me here! I also have a 7-year old host brother, Pablo, that is extremely active and might be my new best friend since he has a mountain of toys, including legos, in his room.

Tonight my family drove me into the city center to see a huge basilica—the traffic was almost as bad as Chicago, but also had additional factors like city buses and the fact that when you cut someone off / almost collide, you just honk your horn and all is fine. Unfortunately, the basilica was closed, but I still got to see part of the city center, including a few beautiful churches and the government office of the president. We also stopped at the grocery store on the way home that was in a huge shopping mall. I was able to buy some turkey, cheese, and bread for lunch tomorrow – yay! 

I came back & helped my mom prepare dinner: green plantain soup & fried rice cakes with tuna/tomatoes/onions. From the vegetable & fruit non-eater, here is the update: I ate an entire banana this morning, green plantains, and tuna. I’ve grown so much already.

After dinner, I talked with my host family and showed them a few pictures from back home! They’re still amazed with hearing about Minnesota weather and laugh every time I say that it’s hot (and the rest of the family is shivering cold).

First day of classes tomorrow @ 8am. Guess I’m here to be a student after all.

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