My Study Abroad Experience

To say that my study abroad experience was the scariest, exhilarating, most life-changing experience is an understatement. As I sit in the Miami airport shortly after arriving back to the US, the amount of emotion built up is quite frankly, consuming. So for my own sanity, because we all know I have very little of it, I wanted to use blogging in order to help me process my feelings and emotions, but also be able to share my emotional experience with anyone contemplating doing a study abroad, or even just traveling out of the country for the first time.

Before Leaving…

The month of May consisted of traveling to California, Las Vegas, and Arizona whilst preparing to leave the country for 7 weeks. Up until about 4 or 5 days before leaving, I didn’t fully process the fact that I was going to be out of the country for that long and because of that, those 4 or 5 days seemed like an eternity of anxiety and to be honest, regrets. I was scared shitless. I thought I had made a mistake and this feeling persisted up until arriving at the airport with two others who were going on the program. However, despite my skepticism, my amazing and supportive friends provided a shoulder to cry on and the consistent validation that everything was going to be okay and this trip was going to change my life in the best way possible. Talk about some pretty great friends huh? Needless to say, they were right…but we will get into that a little later.

While in Ecuador…

The entirety of this trip consisted of mass amounts of rollercoaster emotions. Being that it was such a short program, we had very little time to even think about being homesick. But that didn’t stop the late, restless nights of missing my boyfriend, my cat, my family and my friends. Oh and my bed, I definitely miss my bed. Despite these restless, crying-filled nights, the next day was always better and always gave me a new reason to be appreciative of this amazing experience.

One thing I did struggle a lot with on this trip, which I can only really see applying to study abroad programs rather than a casual vacation out of the country was loneliness. I was in a group with seven other students and at about two weeks in, everyone had settled in their little cliques and I found myself resting on the outskirts of all of them. Which wasn’t much of a surprise being that all of high school was the exact same. However, despite feeling lonely and craving my loving friendships in the states, I constantly reminded myself that I was here to learn, grow, and create life-long memories. I struggled with this feeling throughout the entire trip and it was extremely difficult to not let it ruin my mood sometimes, but I was lucky enough to grow close to two girls in particular, Abby and Renata, who assured me I was not alone and consistently reminded me of my worth. Both of these girls are girls I strive to keep as life-long friends because they made such a huge impact on me and were there in every great memory I made in these seven weeks.

All in all, I can say that the homesick was definitely present at random times throughout the trip, but all of the greatness that is Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands made up for it every single day.

The Aftermath

On a couple occasions, I found myself wishing away this trip. And then feeling shameful because I am so lucky to have the chance to experience all of this. I knew it would be difficult to leave after being there for seven weeks, but I truly did not think it would be this difficult. A couple hours into being back in the US, I find that the memories are on constant replay in my head. The last night in Ecuador consisted of lots of tears and planning out when I could make my next trip back. All the little things that seemed so irrelevant at the time; the delicious food, the kisses for each greeting, the sincerity from every person, is all so greatly appreciated and missed. I can easily say that the goodbyes to both of my host families was the single hardest part of leaving. Even in such a short amount of time, I formed relationships with both of them that will continue on for the rest of my life. As they say, I will always have my Ecuadorian family.

This is my Galapagos family. My host mom, Cecibel (on the left) walked to the dock with me before leaving for island hopping. Lucero (in the middle), my little sister, was such a bright shining light and every second spent with her, whether we were making desserts or she was showing me covers of Baby Shark, filled my heart with so much joy. Lastly, Renzo, my host dad, despite saying goodbye to me early in the morning before he left for work, ran to the dock as I was walking onto the boat to give me one last hug. Such sincere, kind, loving people and I am so grateful to call them my Galapagueñan family.

I have nothing but excellent words to say about my Quito family. Lila, Germán, Katherine and Michelle immediately took me in and made me feel like family. On the last day, Lila, my host mom (who sadly isn’t pictured because she was taking all the pictures) took me to go shopping at an Artisan market in Quito and then taught me several recipes for all of my favorite Ecuadorian foods. We spent our last night eating the delicious dishes we made and watching rom-coms. These goodbyes were the hardest but I know I will see them again soon. Lila has already been sending me the most loving texts and continues to keep in touch. Definitely counting down the days till I get to see them again.

It is such a bittersweet feeling being back in the states, but I continue to remind myself that I am not saying goodbye to Ecuador and I am certainly not saying goodbye to my families, but rather, I am saying “see you later” because part of my heart was most definitely left in Ecuador and will remain there for the rest of my life.

I hope this series was as entertaining for you to read as it was for me to write. I’ve stated this in previous posts, but my wanderlust has been fully triggered and I am so excited to begin fulfilling this wanderlust and documenting every moment along the way!

I hope you stick along for the ride, because it will be an exciting one to say the least.

I would love if you liked this post and followed my blog for future blog post updates! If you have any questions regarding study abroad programs, traveling out of the country, or anything for that matter, feel free to comment or go to the ‘Contact Me’ tab and fill out the contact form!

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Till next time ツ

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