Emily, Outbound to Ecuador

It's already November and I can confidently say this has been the most life changing experience in my life. So many things have occurred since arriving roughly three months ago, with plenty of ups and downs along the way, but all non the less completely worth it. First, I can't believe how fast the time is going by, from stepping off the plane, unaware of what I was about to get myself into with my extensive knowledge of less than 1% of the Spanish language. From understanding about 40% of what people are saying, conversing with people of a completely different culture, and becoming a part of a new family. To give you some context I live in a little town in the valley below the capital city, Quito, called El Valle de Los Chillos. The people here in my region of Ecuador are amazing and are sweet as can be, always trying to help you in any way they can even if it doesn't benefit them. They're always interested to hear about your life, story, and home country, even if it's your local taxi driver or a teacher at school. I currently live with the RYE president of my host club and his wife. It's pretty quiet but they were very kind for opening their home to me after some problems with my first host family. I always get a delicious home cooked meal after I come home from school and usually some pie too! Yay! The food here is healthy and plentiful, usually consisting of chicken, pork, or carne with rice and salad. They also tend to eat a lot of soup before meals and drink FRESH squeezed juice. I've definitely gained a lot of weight since I've gotten here, but not because the food is unhealthy, but because it's so good I tend to eat a lot of it. We usually have tea and coffee later in the afternoon with sweet breads to discuss the latest. This is usually one of my favorite parts of my day (and it has helped improved my Spanish a lot!)

I go to a private school about 25 minutes away from my house and I take a very tiny bus provided by the school to and from my “colegio”. School is from 7:15 (which means I have to get up at 5:45, yikes!) to 2:00, which isn't too bad. I have 8 classes a day each lasting 45 minutes where I participate and try to complete my work as best as possible. We also have a one, half an hour break where I hang out with my best friend from Germany and the other kids from my school. One thing is that the youth seemed to be very open here at first and welcoming to new friends, but there ended up being a divide between us, which made adaption a little difficult. I feel like a complete outsider most of the time, but the few, really good friends that I’ve made always make me feel comfortable. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I attend dance classes with my other German friend from 7:30 to 9:00 pm. This is one of my favorite parts of the week because it gives me a chance to exercise, socialize, and learn the salsa and bachata! But every other day of the week after school I’m pretty bored and am not allowed to go out much. That's actually something that I've had a problem with the most is the cultural divide in how they treat women in comparison to men. In my families defense Ecuador is pretty dangerous, especially for women, but I felt they were too over protective. I don't attend rotary meetings that often because it is not a requirement, usually about once a month, which isn't too bad. The Rotarians are very kind and are always curious to hear about how my exchange is going. It makes me feel like I am being taken care of and that is very important for a successful exchange. One of my favorite things so far about exchange is getting to know the other inbounds, I know Rotary encourages us to spend most of our time with natives, especially to get to know the culture and language, but the best memories I've made so far are with my host family and most of all my exchange friends. That is all for this entry and I again want to thank Rotary for this out of the world experience. Until next time! Hasta pronto.

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