Leaving for Brazil

This is has been a busy week and it’s the week I leave for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The university that I am attending in Rio is called Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro also known as PUC, the class I will be taking in this university is called Doing Business in Latin America. I am super excited and thrilled about this opportunity, within this week, I had to make all the arrangements before I leave for Brazil from my paperwork to luggage to the goodbyes to the last minute shopping. The process so far has been a hectic one yet its fun, after the end of each task I remind myself I am a step closer to Brazil and so far it has carried me forward.


Its a mess, but worth it none the less!

My family has been a huge help in this process because I was juggling finals, graduation preparations and at the same time arrangement for this process, and so far in this journey, they have given me their valuable input and my brother even voluntarily did some research for Brazil just to keep me updated. These are the times when you realize what you are leaving behind to study abroad, and it also stays a constant reminder that when you come back from the trip, this is the sweet and supportive family you are coming back to.


My brother

Friends, colleagues and relatives also bid their goodbyes this week and yesterday happened to meet an old friend in New Paltz who had just comeback from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She was very happy to hear I was going to do study abroad and she told me about the places to see in Brazil. A Brazilian friend of mine has also introduced me to her cousin, who is currently living in Rio and a colleague of mine has also introduced to one of her friends settled in Rio. So, I have to meet these wonderful individuals in Brazil, visit the various places described by my friend, visit PUC, get to know all my group members and classmates, plus, get immersed into the Brazilian culture. This one month journey is going to be amazing, and I cannot wait for it to start. But before that, there were and are so many people that helped me, supported me and guided me in this process and cannot thank you enough for everything that you guys have done for me.





Where am I, really?

My transition back home was a LOT smoother than I thought it’d be. Especially because they kept telling us how strange it would feel. But for me, it was like I never left. Sure, getting off the plane and being in New York was surreal, I felt numb the first night and the first day I said “sí” to the waiter in the Asian restaurant when everyone around me was speaking English – but I was home.

Although there was catching up to do – some friends had broken up with their boyfriends while others were pursuing new ones and there were new music crazes such as the “Nay-nay” (still gotta look that one up) – I already knew my town, my friends and my family. Everything was pretty much as I had left it.

Then why do I feel like I’m floating in limbo?

Ecuador seems like somebody else’s dream within a dream and I was inception.

Unloading yet another suitcase has made my lifestyle seem pretty temporary. The four months I spent living out of luggage in Ecuador is the same amount of time I will be spending at home before finishing my last year of college. It almost doesn’t feel worth it to unpack. By the time I get used to it here I’ll be back at New Paltz again and I can’t believe it’s my last summer home before facing “the real world”, that ominous or luminous place that we all end up in  – depending on how you look at it.

I am scared.

I am scared because I don’t know if I am strong enough or adult enough to make it out there. I am scared for my bank account because lately it has been running extremely low. And I am scared for my career, because everyone knows how difficult it is for a musician to actually make money from work (there are jokes out there for a reason!)

But hey, I did say I was gonna try the whole “starving-artist” thing, right?



Flashback Friday: Quito Edition

Although the program in Ecuador takes place in Guayaquil, hey had us fly in to Quito for the first week of orientation and we travelled around from there. Looking back, I wish I had paid more attention to all of the names, dates and historical facts the many guides shared with us. At least I still have the pictures and the memories!


This was our orientation group at an Oswaldo Guayasamín art museum (famous Ecuadorian artist)






Quito was really beautiful, I wish I had more time to travel back.

Was it all just a dream?

My first day back home and it all just seems a far away dream. Coming off the plane the customs guy messed with me ’cause he saw how excited I was.

I ran into my family’s arms and tears escaped from our eyes. Everyone stared. I was back with my family.


Rewind to a week ago when my New Paltz friend Angela and I arrived in Baños, Ecuador. Out of all the places to travel to before I left, this was the best pick.

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In Baños we ate amazing food.


Like the vegetarian meal that caused me to be a veggie head.

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We went to the amazon,


Angela jumped from a bridge,

we glided hundreds of feet over rivers

and we swung over valleys.



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We also met people from all over the world!


We met up with other exchange students from UEES and hung out.


and before leaving Ecuador, I said some goodbyes to some really great friends.

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E>What a great experience. I love you Ecuador!!!

Sadness. Acceptance. Joy.

WOW! Today was the biggest jumble of experiences and emotions! What a long day!

I woke up productive this morning. I grabbed my laptop and began homework straight away. I have a lot to get done since next week is finals week and the week after I leave for home! It’s so cliche and I sound so cheesy saying it, but time flew by.

After doing some homework and eating a delicious lunch, I got myself ready to go to “reverse culture shock training” at UEES. Walking over with my friend Angela, we talked about our schedules and housing arrangements for the fall. We’ve already made plans to cook and party together back at New Paltz!

Once I arrived to “training”, reality hit me. I’m really going to leave this place in 15 days. Such a short time. I remember bombarding Payal and Ashley (two former study abroad students who came to UEES) with questions, being nervous and preparing myself to come. And look how fast time ran out!

For reverse culture shock training, Angelike, Andrea and Karina had prepared a slideshow and reflection questions to remind us of all we have done here and our many experiences. I hadn’t realized how much each and every person has effected me since day 1. All of us internationals have stuck together like a lot of lost puppy-dogs and we love each other although we may not all get along. I am so grateful that Angelike, Andrea and Karina have acted as artificial mamis, offering us advice not only as advisors, but as family. They open their office door to their hearts with sweets, puppies, and shoulders to cry on. There is no way I could ever thank them for doing all that they do. This is not just a job for them. They really love us.

So, after they filled me with tears for all of the memories captured in a few pictures and funny videos, they sent us off to finish our exams and excursions.


Today gave me a lot to think about. Especially after walking in the rain with Aryn, talking about how much we’ve changed but probably don’t notice it, how even within the next couple of weeks we can experience completely new things, and how the journey never really ends. They say it’s time to say goodbye, but I think it’s time to say hello. Hello to all new opportunities. Hello to new experiences. Hello to change and fear. Hello to the unknown. I didn’t think I could open up anymore as a person, but I am now so open to the possibilities of life.


After soaking my shoes in the notorious puddles of Samborondón during the rainy season, I plopped onto my bed at home to Skype with my mom and dad for a few minutes. Did I tell you I switched host families? I decided to spend the last few weeks with a different family that seems a better fit for me. Well, anyways, my family did not give me much time to rest. We had dinner and their sweet tooth was itching so bad! They all BEGGED me to make cupcakes tonight (we had bought all the ingredients for cupcakes and cookies last weekend)! So, along with grandma’s help, we baked cupcakes for about three hours! And finally we’re done! I’ve never had so many opinions in the kitchen at once! It was definitely an overwhelming experience! lol.

And so the day goes: productive, sad, nostalgic, optimistic, tiring, OH and did I tell you? I found out that one of my best friends got accepted to New Paltz! And I also found out the names of the three Ecuadorians who will be studying abroad in New Paltz next fall! AND I made three friends who attend New Paltz studying abroad here with me. Next semester is going to be AWESOME!!!



Sweet dreams and don’t let the bedbugs bite =]


Adventures en la Sierra

It started out ’cause I didn’t have plans for the weekend. I hit up my friend Jonny on Whatsapp to ask if he had anything in mind. I figured since he’s from Ecuador (and not from Guayaquil, the city I’m staying in), he would probably have a good idea of something cool to see. He immediately answered back with “Let’s go to Latacunga”.

Latacunga is a city near the volcano Cotopaxi, the popular lake Quilotoa, and quite close to Ambato, mostly known for its festivals during Carnaval.

The adventure began on Thursday night. It was one of the internationals’ birthday so we were all hanging out in the delicious warm atmosphere. We spent the night without sleep  because our bus left at 4:15 AM.


Arriving around 11:30 Friday morning, we made our way to abuela’s house in Latacunga to put our stuff down and take a load off. Jonny’s grandma turns out to be the sweetest ever. She had a delicious fresh lunch ready for us and we were oh-so grateful. After lunch we went for a tour of the city (given by our lovely guide Jonny), and he chose a great place for dinner.

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The next morning we got up (against my will!) at 6am in order to have breakfast and make our way to Quilotoa. His family shocked me again with breakfast ready for us, driving us the 2 hours to get to Quilotoa, joining us on the hike, sharing individual packed meals for lunch (by lovely abuela), and driving us the 2 hours back. All I can say is I am truly blessed and they made me feel super special and loved!

Quilotoa was breathtaking. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

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After Quilotoa we made our way back home to rest for a bit before traveling to Ambato. In Ambato we found a hostel and ate some grub. We were so hungry! Plans sort of fell through that night, but it worked out because we ended up sipping some hot cocoa and scarfing down delicious chocolate cake. I can never complain when dessert is involved.


The next morning, up again early para desayunar and back to Latacunga for lunch with Jonny’s family and to sight see a bit more. Then, sadly ending our trip. Fun times passed, yet more fun times await!!!


Food, Food, Food!

Alright, so if any of you know me at all, you know I LOVE food.


So, this blog will be dedicated to food here in Ecuador. And best believe North American, Middle-Eastern and Asian food can be found all around Samborondón.  Here are tons of pictures of food I’ve eaten and food I’ve made.


This picture is from the first time I baked here in Ecuador. It was difficult to find all the ingredients (because they looked different and their names are all in Spanish), but I did it with the help of my friends from México!


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However, I bought all of the ingredients without realizing that we don’t have an oven in our kitchen! Thankfully we do have a toaster oven, so I worked with what I had!


Here are my loved pancakes <3

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Spaghetti & vegetables with patecones (fried plantains)



Arroz con pollo, maduro y ensaladita



Chicken with a creamy white sauce and mac ‘n’ cheese -My birthday meal!

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A truffle-like chocolate cake and tiramisu my host mom bought for an after-almnuerzo treat on my birthday!


My birthday dinner: California roll from Noé



Lunch at the Villavicencio-Zurita house.



Burgers and fries my Ecuadorian friend made me.

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The best cupcake I’ve ever eaten here. Dulce de leche filling with a cheesecake frosting and white chocolate. They need to add this to the menu at Moxie! I wish I could steal the recipe.




Yesterday I learned how to make Seco de Pollo, one of my favorite typical dishes here in Ecuador =]

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Dinner last night. My first time in Bundheo, a fast-food place that sells Mexican, Arabic, and a mixture of other types of food!




These are just some of the foods I’ve eaten here in Ecuador, and it’s no wonder I’ve gained weight! But you know what? For me, good food doesn’t only fill my belly. It feeds my soul.


<3 Peace!

Flashback Friday: Orientation Edition

Flashback Friday to Hacienda Ciénaga. Hacienda means plantation and Cienaga means swamp. But (if I understood correctly), we were told that the “cien” of Cienaga also means that there are at least 100 meters of land. Here we stopped to hear some live music, drink some hot chocolate, and see the beautiful church, garden, and plantation while on our way to the Salasaca community to have a typical lunch and hear some more typical music. Everything was so beautiful.

Hacienda Ciénaga



La iglesia at Hacienda Ciénaga



El jardín at Hacienda Ciénaga



La iglesia



Inside la iglesia



Helado con mis amigas de México



The internationals at the Salasaca community witnessing typical festival dances/song






Welcome to my blog!

Wow! I’m so excited to begin blogging! First I want to tell you all thanks for stopping by and reading my blog! I hope you enjoy it and come back for more!

First off, my name is Danielle Roberts, I’m a Junior, a Music major with a concentration in Vocal Jazz, and a Black Studies minor. I am half Puerto Rican and half a big ol’ mix of English, Irish, French, German, and I just found out that I’m Scottish too! It’s getting to the point where I can’t even remember everything! I came here to Ecuador to study Spanish so I can visit my family in Puerto Rico and be able to communicate with them with more ease. I also decided to study abroad to broaden my horizons, spread my wings as an individual, and learn to thrive independently. I have always been a homebody and I pushed myself to do this so I can be an everywherebody!

Since I’ve been here for precisely two months and five days, I have a LOT to fill you in on! Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

First off, orientation began almost from the moment we landed! I got to the airport in Quito, Ecuador in the evening on January 2nd and was met with the wonderful Angelike Paez, inbound coordinator. We met with some other students who came in on the same plane, and we headed to the hotel.

First thing in the morning we went to breakfast and met all of the other international students from our group. There’s about twenty of us. It was interesting being in a new city, a new region, and a new country! The view from the window at breakfast was so pretty!


Angelike and Andrea began orientation, making sure we were all comfortable, giving us some information and pointers, and having us introduce ourselves. The support system here was evident from the very start.

The first day, we visited un museo del arte de Oswaldo Guayasamín, a very famous Ecuadorian artist, and then we had a tour of Quito, the second most populated city in Ecuador.


Some of the things I remember most about orientation were going to Otavalo and visiting Chimborazo.

Otavalo is a small town in which I first noticed that Ecuador has a large mixture of rich culture and modern influences. It was interesting to see indigenous women in their traditional colorful wool skirts and high socks next to people in jeans and t-shirts. To me, this shows the history, tradition, and culture mixed with the modernization and urbanization of the country.

Chimborazo is a different story. Chimborazo, the highest mountain in Ecuador, is situated at 6,268 metros, which is about 20,564 feet. It was so difficult to get used to the altitude that I couldn’t even climb the mountain with the others. But, I did take some selfies next to the active snow-capped volcano!

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Since orientation we have been to Manglares Churute, which are mangroves and a cacao plantation,

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Cuenca, which is a beautiful city with 52 churches, also the home city of some of my best friends from NY,

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Canoa, a tiny town with a beautiful beach,

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and Ambato to celebrate Carnaval, which is the festival before Lent. Yeah, Ecuador’s pretty religious! But they sure know how to have fun!


And although I am having tons of fun and I’ve seen more places than I even realized, I do miss my family so much. Two months away from home is going by so slow, but all the while super fast. I can’t wait to visit more places while I’m here, but I’m also makng a super long list of things I want to do when I get back home!

-cookie cake

-peanut butter

-family time

Oh, and did I mention? Tomorrow is my birthday! March 8th, pisces!