Thursday, January 20, 2011

Ally V. - Quito, Ecuador - Spring 2011

Hola a todos y todas!
My name is Ally, and I am spending 132 days studying in Quito, Ecuador. As I write this, I have been here for 15 of them. I want to tell you about some things I like.
01. I like lists. Lists are crucial. I made a list of things I wanted to pack and people I needed to see before I left. Now that I’m here, I make lists of things to buy at the pharmacy and words to look up in my Spanish-English dictionary. Learn to love lists. When everything is unfamiliar in your new country, having something of which you’re in control is oddly stabilizing.
02. I like Skype. Download it. Learn how to use it. Tell anyone you love to get it. 5 minutes on a video chat with your partner or parent can change your day from awful to manageable. (iChat/AIM also suffices.)
03. I like knowing where I am. When you get to your country, find out what the closest *thing* is to you so when other students ask you where you live, you can tell them. For example, I live in the northern part of Quito off Av. America. Saying that is a lot more useful than saying, “uhh… I take a red bus, get off by the big satellite dish, then walk two more blocks.”
04. I like Harry Potter. While I’m not necessarily asking you to be a HP fan, make sure you bring your *thing* with you. Be it your favorite movie, book, photos, letter from your bestie: bring it with you. You will not regret leaving that one t-shirt at home in order to make room for it.
05. I like taking my time. That being said, if you are reading this and have not applied for your visa: do it! Seriously!
06. I like my iPod. Whatever your musical outlet: sync it, charge it, bring extra batteries. On a lonely night, having your jams will make all the difference. Also: invest in some black headphones. White scream “please steal me and the technology to which I am attached!”
07. I like classes. Seriously consider the courses you plan to take. Take some time looking at what is offered. Sign up for classes that fit for you while still stretching your horizons. For example, History and Theory of Photography is not a class I would choose to take at Elmhurst. Never limit yourself to how many new things you can choose to try abroad.
08. I like being safe. Listen to your program directors about safety precautions in your country. At the same time, take it a tiny grain of salt. Imagine what they’d have to say about Chicago.
09. I like change. This is probably one of few times you’ll have the opportunity to live and learn in another country. I got on my flight to Quito not wanting to go. But here’s the thing: you go, and you adapt. Your new culture will have so much to teach you if only you let it.
10. The last thing I like is a phrase I learned on my first study abroad experience in England. It goes like this: “keep calm and carry on”. When you get nervous, scared, or feel like you can’t do it, take a breath. Really.
Remember this, as Christopher Robin said to Pooh, “you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” This is part of your Elmhurst experience, just as studying in Quito is part of mine. Even if I had this list when I was in your shoes, I would have been just as scared as I was to leave my comfort zone. For what it’s worth: if I can do this, anyone can!
Chao, y Buena suerte!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

First off, I LOVE that you have a Pooh reference in your post : ) Secondly, you references classes. What would you say were the two most important things to take into consideration when picking classes abroad?
Your adventures sounds great, and I hope they continue to go smashingly!
Angela Crawford

12:34 PM  
Blogger wallflower1332 said...

Hey Angela :)
Thanks for reading my blog! It's so far back that I didn't think anyone would find it. Essentially, just remember that classes are going to be one of a million new things you'll be experiencing, so don't overwhelm yourself. For me, classes were the easiest thing to get used to. If I'm being honest, I really didn't choose classes with thought about what requirements they might fulfill back at EC. I took classes on TTh (to leave MWF open for volunteering and travel) based on what my interests were. I know this isn't as helpful as it might have been, but feel free to e-mail me ( with anything else I might help with!

4:08 PM  

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