I took a smorgasbord of classes in Ecuador including jewelry workshop, architectural drawing, and Kichwa. Kichwa, also known as Quechua, is an indigenous language that is spoken throughout the Andes Mountains and is the language of the former Incan empire.
We hiked on various trails throughout our four-day visit, saw monkeys, a sloth, too many poisonous spiders, and macaws, ate ants, and climbed up to the forest canopy.
Ecuador is an amazing country with a gorgeous landscape equipped with diverse ecosystems and a friendly people that are welcoming and warm-hearted. I learned a lot in my semester abroad, but most of all I realized the obligation of every person to help their neighbor, whether they be across the street or across the world.
Initially when choosing my study abroad program I had my heart set on studying in Spain, but the business college did not have any programs in that country. In retrospect I am very pleased I chose to study in Ecuador. It was an incredibly rich, fulfilling and enlightening experience.
I made friends easily with the other amazing people in the study abroad group and got to travel with them to see more Ecaudor than many natives.
I was able to get away from the technological world we live in and got to enjoy the greenness of the Amazon.
After three weeks, I became more comfortable with carrying conversations, the sounds of city life, the taste of the delicious food, the crazy bus rides, classes and homework, living with a host family, making new friends-Ecuadorian and American.
Ecuador is an amazingly diverse country. In a matter of hours, a person can travel from the beach to the mountains to the Amazon rain forest. In just a matter of nine weeks, I have traveled to all of these locations.
As a zoology major, it is my utmost intention and drive to study the biological world in a holistic manner. To be in such a unique and awe striking environment has opened my eyes to the diversity of the biological world.
Whether it was below the surface of the ocean, or deep in the heart of the Amazon rainforest, I literally found myself in a completely new world.
During our hikes on lava rocks, through lush vegetated forests, sandy beaches and boardwalks my favorite aspect about the program were the experiences snorkeling and observing creatures in action.
One unique event that describes a part of my experience was when my group first arrived on San Cristobal Island, the first island we visited on the Galápagos. We walked to the water front and there were hundreds of sea lions on the boardwalk – on the benches, stairs, piers, etc.
I learned independence, spontaneity, how to communicate in a second language under pressure, to keep a cool head, the value of possessions and money, that they can be easily replaced and shouldn’t dictate actions or be a source of anxiety.
I thought I was going to Ecuador to sit in a classroom and learn (which I did), but most learning happened outside of the classroom. It happened when I was traveling the Amazon, the coast, the Andes; when I was trying to interpret the Spanish of my host family’s toddler-aged son; when I was ordering churrascos, my stomach’s true love – all of these experiences that come along with study abroad are what set apart reading about something from getting out i
I thought I knew what to expect out of this program. Giant tortoises, Lonesome George, penguins, finches, marine iguanas, and all the unique species of the islands you hear about. And yes this part of the program was huge. But there was so much more to Galapagos that I never would have expected to gather.
When I first came to Michigan State University, I thought I would never be able to do study abroad. I had the usual excuses: no money, no general education credits to fill, and no time, especially with a job, Spartan Marching Band, and 16 credit hours of class. However, the study abroad programs at MSU make it so easy to overcome the time and money barriers.
My experience in Quito, Ecuador thoroughly fulfilled my passion and was undoubtedly the best experience of my life.
It is a testament to the culture that right off of the plane I was met by Veronica, who worked at USFQ, who then introduced me to my wonderfully generous and spicy host mother, Vicky.