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First things first, I haven’t been as sad as I thought ‘d be returning home. Honestly, it’s probably because I’ve spent the last 2 days laying in bed completing the last of my assignments and sleeping. I haven’t had much time to think about how much I miss Ecuador…but now that I’m sitting here reflecting on it, I’m feeling a bit empty…like I lost something. While abroad, I honestly did not have a single worry. When I needed to finish an assignment due in few moments, there was not the slightest bit of stress. I’m not sure if it was the amazing food that kept me happy or the clean, fresh air, but I had not a care in the world.

When applying for the trip, the primary reason for choosing it was for the Galapagos Islands. How many people get to say they witness some of the world’s most beautiful and unique sites?? Yet I knew after leaving Maqui and Yachana that I had a favoirte place and didn’t want to leave. Freakishly enough, I was willing to sacrifice time in the Galapagos to stay at Yachana longer. Most of the staff was our age, so we were able to chat about anything, and they were friendly as I got back into the groove of speaking only Spanish. I remember one moment when half of the staff sat down to chat with me, and they thought I was fluent in Spanish. (LOL). Surprisingly, I was able to hold quality conversations with staff of all ages, their younger siblings that visited, and felt like I was at home. My family will hate me for this, but not once did I crave or desire my return back to The States. Even when I was talking, I referred to home as “The States”. I had disconnected myself from my home so fast that it was scary.

The timing of the locations was perfect as well. As we entered a foreign country, Maqui welcomed us like family. Yachana gave us adventure and kids our age. The Galapagos gave us bragging rights, a checked box on my bucket list, and an endless supply of sea lion barks. Together, they formed a memorable experience that creatively incorporated coursework to my daily life.

For any students reading this and considering applying for the trip: do it. Whatever it takes. Start working longer shifts, give your grandparents an extra cheese grin, apply for scholarships. This is an experience I will remember forever, and I can’t wait to go back. Everyone there had a cause they were passionate about and working towards goals that added value to their lives.

If you are curious about anything, ask. Everyone was more than excited to answer my questions and take me on adventures.

**One of my favorite experiences was visiting the community off the Napo River. They were completely untouched by civilization. Like completely. I got to use their traditional hunting gear, found out I was kinda good at it and watched a healer in action.