The idea of arriving Ecuador seemed unexplainable, but once I saw the Andes Mountains out of the window of the airplane, it felt like I had already been to this country (due to my past experiences studying in Peru and Bolivia). I was happy that the surroundings were not so unfamiliar, I also felt like I belonged here at this time and now. Getting off the plane was an experience in itself because I was unsure of where to go, as well as the fact that I was told that half of my luggage was still in New York.. that wasn’t a good part of the warm welcoming.
Key: Always bring an extra set of clothes with you on your carry on luggage or else you will be wearing the same clothes for the time being you do not have your luggage.
When I finally found my way out of customs, through security and the abundance of other little tasks that needed to be completed, I saw two girls about my age holding up a sign with the letters UEES. Their friendly faces made me feel at home already and I knew that it was going to be wonderful. That was such a helpful idea to have in my mind that took away the stress of leaving home. The first question I asked, how good is your Spanish? One of my prior fears to coming to this trip was being unsure that I was going to know enough Spanish to communicate and the other students would be extremely advanced. However, this was not the case, these eager to travel students were also learning and interested to improve their Spanish as well! What a relief!
After all of the confusion at the airport, we finally got to the hotel that we were spending the night at. There were a few other people that had already arrived from the States and we all introduced ourselves. It was comforting to know that I was not the only one that was a little bit shaken up about being in a new country. But at the same time, I also felt this sense of accomplishment, I was here, in Ecuador. I made the decision and before the night was over, I already knew that I had made one of the best decisions of my life.