I'm Off

The fact that in less than half an hour, at 10:15 AM I will be on a plane leaving O'Hare, and (baring any unforeseen complications) I will land in a new country and hemisphere before 9 PM tonight, is still unreal to me. It has been a long process to get to this point, a long string of so much logistical planning and packing, preparing and goodbye-saying. One would have to dig deep deep into my past, and arguably into my parents past to discover where my travel bug really first originated, and following this logic it is almost impossible to pinpoint the beginning of my journey to Ecuador…but lets overlook that for now, and track only the start of this particular voyage.

After a holiday season filled with the abundance of family, presents, and of course so much food that is typical of my family, I was bopping around my empty house in January, looking into study abroad options. Argentina seemed like a good possibility for my particular interest, with the potential to engage with the substantial German communities, but in a Spanish-speaking country. I thought I would be able to engage with my two language interests. Well, as it turns out there are apparently very few people interested in simultaneously pursuing German and Spanish language acquisition while abroad…so there aren't really any programs set up to do this…

Fast forward a month or two, I am discouraged, since I have missed the deadline to apply for Fall 2015 abroad programs through Earlham, and have now also decided that the Argentina idea isn't really realistic either. So it is looking like I will have to wait until junior year to travel. One day there were a few prospective students visiting my Spanish class, and my Professor Rodolfo was talking up this new Ecuador Program, the fateful words were something like "You should all come to Earlham and apply for the Ecuador Program, and [looking around at the rest of the class] you should all apply too." As soon as I realized that he wasn't kidding, and we really could apply still, despite the fact that the application deadline had been in November, and it was now late January, I did.

What followed were months of visa applications, involving physicals, background checks, an HIV test, and so much paperwork. We had (along with all the other Fall study abroad groups) a one-credit "Cross Cultural Explorations" course where we talked about culture shock, staying healthy abroad, and other such topics that might be good to know when studying and living in a foreign country. I attempted to stay in touch as the summer whirled by (straight from school to summer camp, to home-briefly-and now to Ecuador!)

Long story short, I hope to keep you all informed about my Ecuadorian Escapades these next 4 and half months. There will be many more details and pictures once I arrive to my host family in Quito later today. I am not sure how often I will post; it all kinda depends on my level of fatigue and busy-ness, but stay tuned, and feel free to ask me questions or comment on my adventures.

Oh so much laundry!
Oh so much laundry!
All packed
Packed and ready—my host family's Wisconsin cutting board gift safely nestled in the center.