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Siga no más

Alright so I'm blogging for the first time in 2009 but I promise I have a good excuse. I've been studying abroad in Ecuador since January and I will be here for just over one more month.

Upon leaving the US, I was filled with NOTHING but doubts, fears, anxieties, and the general feeling of, "what on earth have I gotten myself into?" Everything in my life was falling into place perfectly at the time, and leave it to me to go and mess it all up by fleeing the country for 4 months. Little did I know.......

Everybody always says life comes at you fast, right? A lot of people never stop and take the time to think about how fast it really goes. When I left I thought, "oh my God, 4 months is like an eternity - my whole life is in Minnesota, why do I keep leaving?" - and within my first few weeks in Quito my mindset changed to "wow, 4 months is nothing in the grand scheme of life."

Now I have only one month and 3 days left to go, and I can't believe how quickly the time has gone. I spent 7 weeks in Quito and then one in Peru (spring break) before heading to where I am now in Tena, Ecuador (6 hours SE of Quito). The first 7 weeks were all academic at Fundación CIMAS del Ecuador as part of the Minnesota Studies in International Development (MSID) program through the U of M. Now these second 6 weeks are all devoted to a rural area internship. The internship is dedicated to whichever area of study you desire it to be in (i.e. mine is public health, there is also education and micro finance).

Anyway, I spent my weekends in Quito, well.... away from Quito. I traveled all through Ecuador to the north (Otavalo and Cotacachi), to the coast (Montoñita), and to various other places such as San Miguel de los Bancos, I jumped off a bridge in Baños, I climbed a volcano (Pinchincha), and we eventually found our way to Peru where I was able to throw up on one of the 7 wonders of the world at Machu Picchu (no sleep, high altitude, and bad food make for a great day). Still, at least I was able to leave my mark. All of these places have certainly left their marks on me.

As fun as those first 7 weeks were, I have now come to the powerful part of the study abroad experience. MSID is like no other program in that it is really meant to open your eyes to a different culture and helps you do so by being involved in the community through an internship and living with host families. I am currently working in the emergency room in the hospital here in Tena - the biggest hospital in "El Oriente" region of Ecuador. It has been incredible just in these first few weeks to see the incredible differences among not only life in the US compared to here, but life in Quito compared to here. It has been quite the double culture shock. I can only hope I continue to be awed by the simplicity of life here that is so contradictory to that of the US.

I could go on forever, but I'll cut it short here so I can go rest from an intense day of white water rafting through the jungle yesterday! If anybody ever asks you if you're planning on studying abroad - my advice is to do your best to put EVERYTHING on the back burner, and I mean everything, and respond with an immediate yes. Entonces, siga no más, come and study abroad to see what the world outside of Minnesota and the United States has to offer - I promise that you'll never regret it!

Peace love, and enjoy warm water, toilet seats, and sleeping past 4am,
- Dave

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