Hola amigos! Now that I am finally settled in my Ecuadorian home, I can update everyone on mi nueva vida. I arrived in Quito, Ecuador around midnight on Thursday, July 21st. I took the group flight from Houston, Texas with students from colleges all over the United States. There are two girls in the group who are from Elizabethtown College as well. Once we arrived in Quito, we needed to wait on a line to get through customs. Although the line was long, it was so easy to get through customs. We were barely questioned about anything, and our bags simply passed the customs scanners. Immediately we were greeted by my loco Director Daniel Bryan and my Assistant Director Martha Perez. With about 10 students crammed on a small bus packed with luggage close to the ceiling, we were on our way to meet up with the rest of the students from my BCA program.
From Thursday night-late Sunday afternoon, we stayed in a Hostel called Hostal la Carolina. I have never stayed in a hostel before, but it was one of the nicest ones I've seen. Just as good as a small hotel. During our stay at the hostel, we had breakfast everyday around 9am, and had to sit through orientation for about 3/4 hours each day. We talked about our expectations and concerns, safety and security, and how our life with host families would be. During the day on Friday, we took a visit to our new school. I am attending La Universidad San Francisco de Quito. It's located in Cumbaya and is about a 30 minute bus ride from my my bus terminal. Before I take the bus, I have a 15 minute walk from my house to Rio Coca which is the name of my bus stop. On Friday, an international student who attended Etown last year, took me out dancing to a popular club called LED. It was similar to clubs you would find in the United States but it was very dark and filled with lots of smoke. yuckkk. It was rather interesting to see the difference in the way Ecuadorians dance from us North Americans. They have more of that Latin/salsa rhythm in them.
On Saturday, we took a private bus to the historical center of Quito. The entire area was filled with beautiful old churches and cute little houses. On Saturday night, I met up with an Etown Alumni student who I have many mutual friends with. It's nice to have some natives as friends around here, because the city is HUGE! We went out to a popular place for foreigners called La Mariscal. It has many restaurants/cafes and bars to go out dancing. It was muy divertida!
On Sunday, mi mama y papa picked me up from the hostel to bring me home! Mi mama's name is Fasita and mi papas name is Carlos/Eduardo. They are so cute and sweet! I also have a 25 year old sister named Karla and a 23 year old brother named Michael. My parents only know a few words in English and my siblings don't know much either, so I'm forced to use my Spanish. Living with a host family is honestly one of THE best ways to learn the language! I have never spoken so much Spanish in one day in my entire life. Before I came to Ecuador, I had no confidence in my Spanish speaking skills. But here, I have no choice but to use what I know, and I honestly can say that I am learning more everyday. Usually my grammar is terrible, but speaking with my parents has been so helpful. I ask them about the differences between certain verbs which have the same meanings, and they also correct me when my tenses are wrong. Although it can be a bit frustrating when I don't know a word in Spanish, I manage to use other words to help get my point across. My mom had dinner ready for me at 7 tonight, and it was just the two of us sitting at the table. I had an hour and a half conversation with her like it was nothing! I never would have imagined that I would be able to carry conversations this long!
Tomorrow will be my 4th day of my pre-semester Spanish class. It's an intensive class on the culture and language of Ecuador. The class goes from 9am-1pm 5 days a week, up until the fall semester begins August 22nd. My director Daniel teaches us about the culture of Ecuador for the 1st hour, and then I attend class with another teacher for the language part of it. I have Profesora Lidice and she is very helpful! On Monday night I went out with my friend Diego to this awesome bar/cafe called Mosaico! It had the most beautiful view of central Quito. You could see everything from the top balcony. Plus I tried a popular Ecuadorian beverage called "Calonazo Naranjillazo". It's a hot beverage with orange flavoring and contains a traditional Ecuadorian liquor called Puntas in it. It was muy fuerte (strong).
Yesterday I took a a salsa class! The instructor was a really petite guy that had great rhythm! It was both fun and interesting at the same time. On Friday, my entire group will be participating in a scavenger hunt around Quito! I am looking forward to it! Until then I shall leave you with a list that a friend and I came up with of all the things I want to do in the near future:
1) Go to Papallacta-hot springs
2) Go camping
3) Go to an Ecuador soccer game-Liga stadium (in VIP section)
4) Go fishing at Yanahurco
5) Complete a triathlon on a 3 person team (running, biking, trekking up a mountain) Sept. 25th
6) go ATVing in Coturco
7) Go paintballing
8) Go to Decameron-an all inclusive resort
9) Go to the Galapagos Islands
10) Go hiking in the Amazon
11) Go to Banos-zip-lining, bungee jumping, white water rafting
12) Go to Mindo-jungle/birds
13) Complete the historical center marathon at night (not an actual full length marathon haha)
14) Attend bull fights- Nov. 23rd-Dec.6th
15) Conquer Rucu Pichincha (mountain climbing)
16) Go Biking
17) Go horse back riding
18) Eat Cuy (guinea pig! haha)
19) Go to Otovalo
20) Go to the Cloud Forest
New favorite phrase: En serio!? (meaning are you serious?) Very popular in Ecuador and fun to say haha
Hasta luego mis amigos!
And here are a few photos so you can get an idea of where I'm living!
Balcony of my hostel
part of USFQ campus
the building with the green vines is where my Pre-semester class is held
traditional Ecuadorian dish
historical center of Quito
chicas from BCA
beautiful church in the historical center of Quito
Meg's massive Empanada
the view from Mosaico