Hello again everyone!
Being in Ecuador was the most amazing experience ever and if you’re a prospective student, I would so encourage you to go. Being in a foreign country for the first time allowed me to have so many new experiences, but beyond that, it opened my eyes to the courage and sense of adventure that can always be in my life.
Here are a few of my favorite experiences:
Engaging with a new culture:
Specifically, I really enjoyed picking up Spanish again. I took 4 years of Spanish in high school and a semester at UGA, but I knew I was going to be pretty rusty at speaking the language. I was surprised however by how quickly vocabulary came back and how much easier it was to put yourself out there when you know that the other person won’t understand you unless you try to speak their language. Also, the people in Ecuador are SUPER kind and hospitable and would often speak slowly or use gestures to help me out.
Hiking every day:
My favorite location was the Maquipucuna Ecolodge and Reserve and they have amazing hiking trails over their 14,000 acres of preserved cloud forest. During these hikes, we saw many amazing bugs and were able to take pictures for our collections. I will say that the first hike was a little miserable because my body hadn’t adjusted to the altitude yet. But it was super cool to see my endurance grow as the weeks went on.
Snorkeling in the Galápagos:
I have never snorkeled before and it was AMAZING! The water is so clear (and a little cold) and being able to constantly see aquatic wildlife was incredible. We saw more than I ever dreamed including corals, fish, octopus, starfish, marine iguanas, sea turtles (they’re larger and more graceful than I expected), and sea lions…very playful sea lions. The wildlife in general in the Galápagos is awesome with many birds, giant tortoises, and other endemic species.
This list is just the beginning and I hope you can go sometime and see the beauty of Ecuador as well!