Alyssa Rodriguez

Ecuador

Hometown: Palm Coast, Florida
School: Matanzas High School
Sponsor District : District 6970
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of Palm Coast, Florida
Host District: 4400
Host Club: The Rotary Club of RC. Portoviejo San Gregorio



My Bio


¡Hola! My name is Alyssa Rodriguez, I am currently 15 years old and I can't wait to spend my junior year in Ecuador! Right now I live in Flagler County and go to school at Matanzas High school. I am an all honors and AP student and I am a part of a bunch of clubs/groups at school. For example, I am an active member of the Interact club, the women's choir and I take part in as many volunteer opportunities as possible. When I'm not studying, volunteering, or practicing I like to relax by listening to music while reading, painting or pretty much anything that I have never done or seen before. I love trying new things and pushing myself out of my comfort zone which is one of the big reasons I am excited about my exchange. I live by the motto "if it doesn't challenge you it doesn't change you" and going on the exchange will definitely do both challenge and change me. Going on exchange is something out of a dream to me because ever since I was a little girl I've always daydreamed about seeing the world and now its happening. With this opportunity, I can get a better understanding of the world outside of America and apply what I learn abroad to situations when I come back. I am ecstatic to completely immerse myself into the Ecuadorian way of life and learn all about the customs, history, language, architecture and anything else that may come my way.

pool shenanigans with some of the other inbounds

pool shenanigans with some of the other inbounds

The first time I met my host family at the airport

The first time I met my host family at the airport

I didn't put this is my journal, but I was invited to do makeup modeling for my host moms friend and this is a picture I took from the experience

I didn't put this is my journal, but I was invited to do makeup modeling for my host moms friend and this is a picture I took from the experience

Sunset in the mountains (pictures don't really do it justice)

Sunset in the mountains (pictures don't really do it justice)

My first meal in Ecuador

My first meal in Ecuador

Me in front of Incan ruins (It was a lot colder than it looked)

Me in front of Incan ruins (It was a lot colder than it looked)

My view outside of my resort room. Each sunset was so breath taking

My view outside of my resort room. Each sunset was so breath taking

 The view was so gorgeous... wish I could go back.

The view was so gorgeous... wish I could go back.

my host family and I posing for photos (my host dad is behind the camera)

my host family and I posing for photos (my host dad is behind the camera)

 thanks for the jerseys "papa noel"

thanks for the jerseys "papa noel"

 All the inbounds walking in the parade

All the inbounds walking in the parade

 My group and I trekking through the forest

My group and I trekking through the forest

 All dressed up for a nice night out!

All dressed up for a nice night out!

 A picture with my club president and the other inbounds in my club.

A picture with my club president and the other inbounds in my club.

Journals: Alyssa-Ecuador Blog 2019-20

  • Alyssa, Outbound to Ecuador

    Hola!!! To start I would like to apologize for not posting a blog in a long while. I have gotten caught up with my amazing life here that I kinda forgot about my life at home (and I am not sure if that is a good or bad thing) However I am here now and I will get you guys caught up with my life since September.

    To start in October was a little crazy because in Ecuador there were protests against the government. It was crazy because I never experienced anything like it in the United States. The cause is a brief rundown was because the government raised prices for gas to try and stimulate the economy, however, many of the lower class citizens relied on the lower gas prices to keep their small business running. So naturally, this caused an outrage in the public, and there were protests everywhere, but larger ones in the bigger cities like Quito, Guayaquil, and Cuenca. The protests didn't affect my city too much, but we had a curfew to when we had to be in our homes, there was a shortage of meats and schools weren't open. However, some of my exchange friends that lived in the bigger cities listed told me stories about the things that were going on there. For example, those cities had curfews as well, but they still wanted to protest so they would open up their windows and bang pots and pans. Soon enough the protests ended and we were able to back to school.

    A few weeks later we had a trip with Rotary. The Beach Tour was hosted by my Rotary club so the first night and the next day was spent in my city. The first day there was a parade in my city and the exchange students were honored to walk in the parade. It was so much fun and it was so cool to walk through the city and meet new people and just have fun. After we were on our way to the beach hotel that we would be staying at for the next few days. One night Rotary rented a DJ and we had a talent show from all the countries and for the United States we did a lip sync battle and it was so much fun. Afterward, we had a pool party and we all just enjoyed the rest of the night. However, the next day was really fun because we got to go to the rainForest and went hiking through. We had a guide and we got to see monkeys and so many other cool plants and animals (However I wouldn't recommend hiking in the jungle with VANS that was a bit difficult haha.) Afterward, we went to a beach and walked up 700 stairs to go to a lighthouse (also wouldn't recommend doing in VANS) but it was so worth it! The lighthouse was on the edge of a cliff and it was absolutely gorgeous and it was so peaceful (I also got a killer workout in.) After we walked down to the beach and we saw a bunch of turtle nests and the guide talked to us about the turtles and how they try and keep the eggs safe to help raise the number of turtles. After we went to another beach and swam for a bit. All in all, it was a day that I will always remember. The rest of the month was spent with my host family and my friends and it was an amazing month.

    Next, it was November and it was also an amazing month. At the beginning of the month, my host family and 2 others rented out a huge house on the beach and spent about 4 days there and it was so much fun. My favorite part was the roof that overlooked the beach and had hammocks. We went down to the beach a lot and at night we would make a fire and roast marshmallows. It was so nice to be in such a beautiful place and making memories with my host family and family friends. A few weeks later was the time around Thanksgiving. We had a Presentation in front of the whole school about thanksgiving and explaining what it's like and the common traditions. It was hard to have an actual Thanksgiving unfortunately with all the other exchange students in my city (there are 15 of us) so it was hard to line up schedules so a few friends and I went to a nice restaurant to celebrate and it was fun to spend time together and just have a good time and talk about all the things we are thankful for. Towards the end of the month was the start of Christmas themed parties and our first was a Rotary event. We had a nice dinner and named the Queen of Rotary Club San Gregorio and danced and had fun for the rest of the night. Some of the Rotarians tried to teach us how to "Dance like an Ecuadorian" and it was a lot of fun.

    Now for the month of December. This is the month that a lot of exchange students are scared for because it is the holidays and around the time many get the most homesick. However for me, that hasn't been the case (but don't tell my family back at home that, and if they just so happen to read this I am sorry mom haha.) But this month has been great and eye-opening. This month was also very busy for me as it usually is during the Holidays. My host family and I had many events to attend but it was a lot of fun. The first was the crowning of the queen of the tennis club and my good friend Salma won and I was so happy for her. A bunch of other exchange students also attended it was a lot of fun, and my host sister performed a dance at the ceremony and it was super cool. Dancing is a HUGE part of the culture here. The people are always dancing even if its a traditional dance or just for fun which I love because I love to dance. A few days later we had an event in the park that I especially loved. It was the Portoviejo Beatles Contest and I love The Beatles so I was so excited about it. My host bother performed in it and he did so good and I was so proud of him. He and I bought matching shirts and just had a good time listening to live music. It was so cool because there were so many people performing and it was an amazing night.

    As Christmas approached, we had things called Novenas that are celebrated for 9 consecutive days. It is a Christian celebration of the 3 wise men's journey to see Jesus and they tell the story of his birth. It was super cool to experience something like this because in the United States this isn't as common as it is in Ecuador. On the last day of Novenas, it was also my host sister's birthday so we celebrated everything at my host family's house. The same night we had the official Christmas party of my Rotary club so after the Novena, I went to the club and we had a nice meal and exchanged gifts and all the exchange students got jerseys from the soccer team here and backpacks with Inca patterns and "Ecuador" sewed in. It was so nice of them to do that for us and it was probably one of the coolest gifts I've gotten. A few days after we had a Christmas presentation in front of the school and we had to sing and make a dance in front of the school. It was embarrassing but it was fun nonetheless, and that marked the last day of school and the start of Christmas break. The next two days were Christmas eve and Christmas and it was a lot of fun. My family got ready for pictures and we had a nice dinner at home and we sang songs, and just enjoyed each other's company. In Ecuador exchanging presents isn't as common as it is in the United States but I surprised my family with presents anyway to show how grateful I am for them, and we opened them at midnight. I am happy to report that they loved their presents a lot and my host mom told me that they enjoyed it so much that they will probably do it again next year which made me so happy. All in all these past few months have been incredible and I still have a ways to go. I am loving every minute here and I am forever grateful to have this amazing opportunity.

    As I am getting more into life here I feel more and more at home. It feels like Ecuador is a part of me, and I couldn't be happier. Yes, the occasional cravings for Chick-fil-a and Olive Garden are hard but nonetheless, I don't ever want to leave. I remember last December at my country reveal someone had told all the outbounds "You don't choose the country, the country chooses you." and that couldn't be truer. I am so happy that this country, this city, this community has chosen me because I couldn't imagine my exchange going any other way, and I still have more adventures to go so until then Chao!

    Click HERE to read more about Alyssa and all her blogs

  • Alyssa, Outbound to Ecuador

    So, I've lived in Ecuador for a little over a month already (it's so crazy to think about.) I can't believe that it's been a month already, and at the same time I can't believe it's only been a month. Ecuador has been amazing to me and I couldn't be happier! To start I boarded my first plane on August 24th from Orlando to the Miami International Airport then from there to Aeropuerto Internacional José Joaquín De Olmedo in Guayaquil. In the beginning the Orlando to Miami flight it was a bit stressful because I was almost late for my flight, but lucky enough one of the ladies at the kiosk recognized my Rotary blazer and helped me bypass an almost 1-hour wait which was such a relief. After that, I said bye to my family and was on my way which was kinda scary only because the Orlando airport is so big and I have no sense of direction and get lost very easily. But after I found my terminal (with 5 minutes to spare) I relaxed and soon enough I was on my way to Miami.

    When I got to the Miami airport I was shocked because the Miami international airport is like 3 times bigger than the Orlando airport, but luckily I had a 4-hour layover so I figured if I got lost at least I would have four hours to find my way to the right terminal haha. When I finally reached my terminal I was lucky enough to meet two other exchange students also going to Ecuador, and it was so cool cause we had seats next to each other on the plane so we were able to talk and get to know each other on the flight. I also found out one of the students was going to the same city and the same school as I so it was cool to know I had a friend before I even got there.

    When we finally reached Guayaquil I was so nervous but excited. Honestly, my mind couldn't comprehend it all and it felt like a dream or like it wasn't happening. Soon my new found friends and I stepped off the plane and went to baggage claim which wasn't as bad as I thought because the journals that I read of the other students that went to Ecuador said that baggage claim was absolutely crazy. It was probably because we got there at like 9:30 at night, but I like to think I was on a lucky streak. After I located my bags I headed towards the main lobby where I knew my new family awaited me. I was so nervous because you can't redo first impressions. When I walked through the door there I saw my host family holding a sign for me and waving excitedly at me. I walked up to them and they welcomed me with open arms and each one of them gave me a big hug and kiss on the cheek. Let's just say it was an easy first impression because as I would come to know Ecuadorians are very friendly, warm and welcoming so I felt comfortable right away.

    Soon we left the airport and they took me to eat at one of the plazas in Ecuador. The food tasted so good and it was all so cheap and I couldn't believe it, because a meal like the one I got would easily be $10 in the United States and here it was only $3.50. After the meal, we walked around the plaza and then soon went to the hotel where we stayed for the night. The next morning we woke up and started our drive to Portoviejo where I would be living in for the next 10 months. The drive took a bit but it was a good opportunity to see lots of things like the beautiful mountains that they have here in Ecuador and lots of the different communities that are here. When I reached my new home I got settled and unpacked my things, and then went to spend time with my new family. And that's when I found that I would be starting school on Monday and I would be going to get my uniform the next day, so you could say that I was a bit nervous.

    The next day I got my uniforms and then prepared for my first day of school. I woke up early for school because here it starts at 7 A.M then I was on my way. I was so nervous because I wanted to make a good impression on my classmates. I walked into my first class which was theater. When I walked into class I saw that there was another exchange student in the class as well, so I got so excited. I learned that she is from Germany, and now she is one of my closest friends here. As the day went on a lot of my school mates came up to me and introduced themselves, and asked my name and where I was from. It was surprisingly easy to talk to new people and it was very common for other students to invite me into their friend group and start conversations with me. So, all in all, I can say my first day of school was a success.

    As the days went on I established a routine where I would wake up around 6:20, go to school, get home around 2, eat lunch, spend time with my family and eat dinner around 8:30 and then get ready for the next day, but eventually on September 5th my family took me on my first trip. We went to Cuenca and it was an experience that I will never forget. We left in the early afternoon and it was a 6 and a half-hour drive but every second was worth it. I got to see a new side of Ecuador that was full of huge rice and plantain farms and there was a lot of livestock and culture. One thing that I noticed though was that they don't keep their livestock in gates and some were just on the side of the road and if I rolled down the window I probably could have touched one of the cows (I didn't do it but I did think about it a few times haha.) Eventually, we started to drive towards mountain territory and it was interesting because in Florida it's flat so driving through mountains was new for me. But the best part was as it got later and the sun began to set the colors of the sky started to dance and it put me in such awe. I thought Florida sunsets were beautiful but nothing compared to watching the sunset in the mountains just below the clouds. We finally reached Cuenca and it was kind of late so we found a place to eat dinner and then we retired to our hotel and got ready for the next day.

    The next day we woke up pretty early and got ready. I learned that we would be going on a tour of Incan Ruins. When we got there, it was so cold because we were in the mountains, but as we went on with the tour it was so amazing. I could only understand some of what the tour guide was saying but either way, it was so interesting. After the tour, we returned to the city and went on a bus tour of Cuenca. It was on a double-decker bus, so it was really cool because I had never been on one before, and I understood the lady speaking to us so I was able to learn a bit about the history of Cuenca while seeing some really cool places in the city. We left Cuenca on Sunday afternoon and then I returned to my routine.

    A week later on September 23rd my first Rotary event arrived and I was excited to meet all the other exchange students. We spent 5 days and 4 nights in the Royal Decameron Mompiche in Esmeraldas and it was such an amazing experience. I got to meet and get to know a lot of the Rotary members and the other inbounds and the whole experience was full of bonding and learning, and other inbounds and I celebrated our one month since arriving. All in all, being here in Ecuador, learning about the culture, meeting new people and making bonds that I wouldn't have made without coming here has been unquestionably amazing and I cannot wait to see what else is in store for me in the months to come, so until then Chao!

    Click HERE to read more about Alyssa and all her blogs

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