Final Goodbyes & Re-entry Adjustments

I have completed my 10 1/2 months teaching English abroad in Quito, Ecuador, and I’m now back in the States! I’m proud that I finished my service. Since the last blog I’ve posted, I attended my cohort’s WorldTeach end-of-year conference, where we had many reflection activities, and I said goodbye to the Ambato volunteers. The conference was during my 1st wedding anniversary, so it was difficult not to spend the day with my husband.

The following week was the 4th of July, but I had to teach on that Wednesday because it’s not a holiday in Ecuador, so Adriene and I went out to lunch together. On that weekend, she hosted a grill out at her place, and we had the opportunity to eat grilled hamburgers and hot dogs.

Grilling out with our Ecuadorian friends!

We enjoyed relaxing and hanging out, and our Ecuadorian friends also enjoyed watching a World Cup game. I continued teaching English throughout July, and I had awesome students. We had a lot of laughs together, and it was difficult to say goodbye to them on their last day.

I also said goodbye to my other Ecuadorian friends at some other get-togethers and meet-ups, and I said goodbye to my host mom’s niece, Katy, and to my host family. I think it was hardest saying goodbye to Isabel because we have a lot in common and we practiced a lot with each other and to Adriene because I don’t know the next time I’ll see her in the States.

Our Ecuadorian friend, Karina, made us a cake with the American flag!

After all the goodbyes, I packed up, and I flew to Florida to visit my friend, Ariel. I felt discombobulated a bit because everything was in English, and I didn’t have to throw toilet paper in the trash anymore. I also felt more at ease walking around safely. What I also noticed on the plane and in restaurants that I’m no longer in a sharing, affectionate culture. Ariel and I ate at some great places, and we relaxed on the beach.

After getting sunburned on the beaches of Florida, I returned to Colorado a couple of days later and reunited with my husband and our dog. We have been spending time together this week, and we tried our wedding cake that was in the freezer, and it tasted almost exactly the same. Brings back memories!

I’m grateful that I made awesome friends, lived with a good host family, improved my Spanish, gained international experience abroad, taught some amazing students, completed my service, and returned home safely. I would like to continue working in international education, so I’m now considering my options. Have you ever taught English abroad? What it was it like for you when you returned home? What are you doing now?

Thanks for reading!

Disclaimer: The ideas and thoughts expressed within this blog are my own and are not the views or opinions of WorldTeach.

Goals & Plans

Wow, it’s 2018!  ¡Feliz Año! It’s always hard for me to believe how quickly the year went by, and it’s difficult every January for me to face the new year. At least this year in Quito I don’t have to deal with a cold, harsh winter. It’s been raining here more than usual, and it’s been a little chilly, but we have sunny days too.

Anyway, my husband came to visit me from December 27th – January 3rd, and it was good to spend time together. He tried some Ecuadorian food and met my host family, I showed him north and south Quito and where I work, we watched Star Wars in English, we visited Baños for a day, we toured la Capilla del Hombre (Guayasamín’s house and museum, which I highly recommend), and we spent time together in the Foch.

Every day with him was so precious, and it was difficult for us to say good-bye to each other. I’m glad that he brought me clothing, toiletries, Gardetto’s, and candy to help me get through the next six months! My parents sent me a package in September, and I still haven’t received it, and at this point, I don’t know if I will. It’s frustrating that the mailing system isn’t like the one in the States.

When I return to the States in August, we’re planning on having a Holi-Jo-Sy-day-Palooza (still working on the name), where we’ll celebrate several holidays and our 1-year marriage anniversary with food, candy, movies, frozen yogurt, and cake.

We loved the views of the mountains in Baños.

A picture of us in front of the Basílica del Voto Nacional.

I rode the swing “at the edge of the world.”

Here’s us in front of Capilla del Hombre.

I didn’t do a lot of traveling over the holiday break, but I hope to do more before I leave the first week of August. I’m planning on going to Cuenca for Carnaval in February with my friend, and I’m looking into going to the Amazon in March and the Galapagos Islands end of May (my birthday!). I’d like to go on more weekend trips to places like Ibarra, Ambato, Riobamba, and other cities, but I suppose we’ll see.

This past weekend I went to the hot springs in Papallacta with a few people, and although it was a bit cold and rainy, we enjoyed relaxing in the warm, mineral water that comes directly from a volcano. This upcoming weekend I’m going to Baños again for WorldTeach’s mid-conference, but it’s for professional reasons.

I also started my second cycle of teaching here on Tuesday, January 16th, and I have the same schedule and English levels as the last cycle. The students seem good so far, and I’m going to do my best to keep up with my goals for teaching this cycle, which include more activities, more speaking & listening activities, more feedback, and as always, more preparation.

I’m still practicing yoga three times a week and practicing Spanish at language exchange clubs and with Ecuadorian friends, and I noticed that while my vocabulary has improved from flashcards and asking questions, I still have trouble with some grammar concepts and listening. I’m going to keep trying though, and I urge all of you to stick to your goals no matter what time of the year it is! 🙂

Thank you for reading!

Disclaimer: The ideas and thoughts expressed within this blog are my own and are not the views or opinions of WorldTeach.

A Quirky Young Lady’s First Impressions of Quito

The view of dotted lights painting the city of Quito at night? Well, nothing compares to a welcome like that.

A month…okay…roughly 4 weeks have gone by since my Quito arrival. After a tearful goodbye with my husband, taking a red-eye flight from Denver to NYC, a flight from NYC to Fort Lauderdale, and a flight from Fort Lauderdale to Quito, (breathes in), you can only imagine how tired I was when I arrived at 10:30 p.m. at night. After we landed, nearly everyone on the plane started clapping. I knew right away I was in a different country because Americans don’t usually clap on a plane unless the plane ride was bumpy and frightening along the way!

I met up with several volunteers in the airport after customs, and we waited for our shuttle ride drivers. After waiting for other volunteers and the drivers, the drivers walked us over to the two cars. Somehow the drivers packed about 11 people’s bags into/onto (literally on top of) two different cars and drove us to the hostel, which was 45 minutes away. My first impressions of Quito were that the people are welcoming and the city has a mixture of rundown and developed buildings (many are colorful). I nearly shouted hallelujah after seeing a shower and bed at the hostel at 1 a.m.  After a much needed night’s sleep, several volunteers and I explored Quito a bit the next day.

First of all, you have to be careful walking around here because the taxis, cars, buses, and bicyclists are on a mission to get to their destination (pedestrians don’t have the right-of-way). Trees and metal rods jut out of sidewalks, and some sidewalks have square holes in the ground (#justcitystuff).  Vendors and kiosks line the street with odds and ends and goods and more goods. We walked around the famous Foch area and had a bite to eat.

Foch sign Foch area

During the day, the ladies from the first hostel moved over to a different hostel. It had a lovely terrace area, and we played a few card games.

Later that evening, everyone met up (38 volunteers total), and we played a spider web yarn game with the group. We then ate traditional food at a swanky restaurant. I tried ceviche and goat for the first time, and I was impressed with its deliciousness. I also learned that it’s not recommended to drink tap water here, but that’s okay, because the variety of fruit juices are endless (guanoabana for the win), and 2 liters of bottled water is like 60 cents. (It’ okay to use the tap water for brushing your teeth and washing your face.)

goat

We started orientation the next day in CEC, and that evening, the son and mom of my host family came to pick me up and another volunteer. The mom gave us a warm welcome, and after her brother-in-law dropped off our bags at the house, he came back and picked us all up. We live only four blocks away from CEC, so we lucked out in that regard. The host family house has an upstairs and downstairs. The other volunteer and I each have our own bedroom, and we share a bathroom (the host family doesn’t use this bathroom). They also have a washer and clothesline in their patio area.

The next two and a half weeks were filled with orientation activities, from diversity and safety sessions to teaching and culture sessions. I also took 10 Spanish group lessons as well. I’m pretty sure you don’t want me to go in too much detail about orientation, but it was all important stuff we needed to know to have a successful year abroad here teaching English in Quito.

On the weekends of those two and a half weeks, we went on several trips.

First, we went to TeleferiQo, where a cable car transported us on the east side of Pichincha Volcano. It took us up from around 10,000 feet to about 13,000 feet. A few of us hiked up the volcano for a couple of hours. Some made it up to the top, and I was pretty close, but I was cold and hungry, and I wasn’t prepared to climb rocks. The views were stunning though.

Teleferiqo

Teleferiqo

Another trip we took was to Mindo. Here, I zip lined on 10 different lines, swung on a Tarzan swing, and tasted the best coffee of my life after learning how it’s made right there.

Group view

Front

I also checked out Mitad del Mundo with our volunteer group. Here, half my body was on the northern hemisphere, and half my body was on the southern hemisphere. I also balanced an egg on the equator, and I earned a certificate!

Ecuador latitude line

Egg balance

They called me the “eggmaster.”

Egg certificate

Last weekend, I toured the historical center of Quito with an Ecuadorian. We visited a glorious church with golden walls and sculptures (no pics allowed), a cultural museum, and El Panecillo.

Cultural art bell church

El Panecillo

El Panecillo

In the meantime, I’ve been meeting some great Ecuadorians at language exchange clubs, spending time with my host family here and there, practicing some yoga, shopping, and relaxing and studying Spanish as much as I can. I earned a Spanish minor in college over four years ago, so I’m having to relearn some stuff while practicing the best I can.

I’m not going to deny that I haven’t experienced my fair share of challenges along the way. Mostly with struggling with Spanish, missing my husband and family dearly, trying to eat foods without milk/cheese because I’m lactose intolerant, accidentally bonking my head on one of my favorite restaurant’s low ceiling and bleeding a bit (the restaurant painted it red after that haha), trying to practice yoga, being brave to walk outside or ride the buses alone, remembering to throw toilet paper in the trash (plumbing can’t handle it), praying that when I get into the shower it will be warm with full water pressure, and feeling confident with lesson planning and teaching.

What I’ve loved most so far? The host family and Ecuadorians are kind and happy, there’s cute dogs everywhere, the parks are beautiful, supportive WorldTeach directors, other friendly volunteers, the culture revolves around family and friends, not individualism and capitalism, the 25 cent bus rides, endless cultural activities and sites, the mountain views are glorious, the places to shop are endless, there’s plentiful places to eat $2.50-$4 almuerzos (lunches) with soup, rice, meat, juice, and more that will fill you up to your heart’s delight. I grew up in suburbs nearly my whole life, and nothing compares to city living in another country.

I start teaching next Tuesday, and I’m looking forward to working with young adults and professionals. My contributions could open up more opportunities in their careers. While Ecuador has plenty of teachers who can speak English, this particular college is in need of sophisticated native English speakers who can teach those at an advanced and academic level.

I’m also looking forward to getting into a routine, meeting other Ecuadorian teachers, and doing more writing and exploring on the side. Who knows what the next nine months will bring?

I welcome questions. Thanks for reading!

Disclaimer: The ideas and thoughts expressed within this blog are my own and are not the views or opinions of WorldTeach.