My trip to Cuenca

My trip to Cuenca


This weekend I along with a few others international students had the opportunity to travel to a very interesting city in Ecuador called Cuenca. Our journey to Cuenca was a breath taking experience. As we drove to Cuenca, we were able to see the Andes Mountain’s and we were able to hike Cajas National Park. My trip to Cuenca was an amazing experience. As soon as I got off the bus, upon arriving to Cuenca, I immediately feel in love with the city. I definitely learned a lot about the city and its people. Cuenca is a city that has a very Spaniard feel to it. A lot of its architecture comes from Spain. The Cuenca flag is very similar to the Spanish flag. It has the biggest church in all of South America. It was built by both the Spaniards and the indigenous people.

One very interesting fact that I learned was that Cuenca was or is still considered the second capital for the Incas, Machu Picchu being the first. During our trip to Cuenca, I was able to see a lot of indigenous people everywhere. It was amazing. They women were dressed in there traditional attire. Seeing the indigenous women was a very warming feeling. It was a feeling like no other. They made me appreciate their culture. They were kind, friendly, and hard working women.

I definitely have to say that two days was not enough time to explore and to learn more about the city. This city is rich in culture and is a wonderful place to live and learn.

Interesting Facts that was learned:

Cuenca was rated one of the top 10 places to live.

It is home to many retired American’s (EE.UU)

Its delicacy is CUYE (Guinea Pig)

There are more than 800 different species of potatoes and over 1000 different types of corn.

Known for their panama hats.



Universidad de Especialidades Espíritu Santos (UEES)

La UEES is a very nice campus. The campus is breath taking and its student body is pretty small, but with great people. The university was founded in 1993 by a man named Dr. Carlos Ortega Maldonado. It has about 5,000 undergraduate students. Sometimes when I am just hanging out waiting for my class to start, I sit by one of the many fountains and I just feel like I’m in a resort. The Guayaquil airport is only minutes away from the University so planes are flying really close above the campus. It looks as though the planes are going to land on campus.
The University has many majors in which brings a lot of students to the school. There most popular majors are Liberal Arts, Culinary Arts, Business, Communications, Law, and Medicine. On the first day of class it was interesting to see how the student was like. The university is a commuter school and they only have a few on-campus housing only for women. The students at the university are very interesting people. One example would be there style of dressing eg. the medical students ware scrubs and medical jackets, the culinary arts students ware chef uniforms, the liberal arts students have an artsy style, and the communication, business, and law students have the professional style wardrobe. It is very interesting to see how the student body dresses and make it seem as if they are already doctors, laws etc. On my first class of the day, communication theory, I felt a bit out of place. I was dressed very casually, while everyone in my class was dressed very professional.
This semester is going to be a real challenge. I am taking regular major courses all taught in Spanish. My classes are very demanding and there is a lot of work to do. For the first couple of weeks, I was feeling very overwhelmed because even though I speak the language my reading and writing is not up to par. But the professors are very accommodating and are willing to work with me every step of the way. I know that by the end of this academic year, my Spanish will be impeccable.

My Host Family

After a long week of traveling the Sierra (the northern part of Ecuador), we finally arrived to the cost to a city called Sambróndon, Ecuador where the University and our new home is located—which is minutes away from Guayaquil, Ecuador-the biggest city in all of Ecuador. As we are approaching the campus, our director of the program tells us that our host families are sitting in university auditorium waiting patiently for us. As soon as she said that, I began to feel my anxiety level increase. I began to feel extra hot and felt as though my heart was going to rip out of my chest. I was very nervous and many thoughts were running through my mind.

We all lined up in a single fill line and walked into the room where all the families were. I immediately spotted my host mom and dad. The mom looked very anxious as well. At that time I felt as though my mom had no idea what I looked like because when my name and the families name was called out, she immediately got up and looked very surprised. The look in her eyes was shocking yet pleased to see me. She along with my host dad immediately came to me and hugged me. For a moment there I felt like an orphan child who was immediately given a family for the first time to be nurtured and cared for. I was very happy and so were they. We walked outside the auditorium together to grab my suite cases and head home. On the way home in the car we were able to chat a little to get to know each other. Upon arriving home they showed me around there huge home and then to my room.

Later on that evening, my host sister came home with her cousin and soon came into my room and the three of us began to chat and get to know each other. The girls got very comfortable and very happy that we had a lot of things in common. After the 3rd day, we felt like we all knew each other from a long time ago.

I have to say that even though it has only been 4 weeks with living with them, I feel like I’ve known them my whole life. They are very open and warming to me, making me feel like I belong in the family. I still haven’t experienced homesickness because the family has been so welcoming and catering to my every need.

History and Adventure en la Sierra

This is already the ending of week two here in Ecuador. Last week we were able to visit the Equator which was a great experience. Our orientation program took us to various museums to learn and explore various parts of the Sierra region in Ecuador.

We were able to visit the Equator where we learn a lot about its history and its people. To prove that we were in the middle of the world they had us do a couple of test. Some of us were able to balance an egg on a needle (which I couldn’t believe my eyes), we attempted to walk the latitude line o’ o’ o’’ (which was very difficult), along with a couple of more interesting activities. I was very fascinated by all of this. While I was standing in the middle of the world, I felt proud and accomplished for doing something that has never been done before.

We then were able to learn about the different indigenous cultures that are found in Ecuador. Ecuador has approximately 12-14 different indigenous language that still exist today (impressive huh?). We were able to visit the home of an indigenous family and they were very welcoming and kind. They took us around their home and spoke to us a little bit about their culture. A few things that I learned from their culture were that they spoke Kichwa—which is a language spoken in 14 different towns all over the Amazon, the cost, and all over the Andes region. Their specialty dish and their most prized animal is the Guinea Pig. For us Americans and for other people in different parts of the world, would see a Guinea pig as a pet; people in Sierra (the northern part of Ecuador), Guinea pigs (El cui) are food. I wasn’t given the opportunity to try a Guinea Pig yet, but from what I’ve heard it taste just like chicken. I’m going to be here for quite some time, so if and when I do get the opportunity too, I will let you know.

To end the last week of training, we were taken to a town called Riobamba—which is a town in the north that has the highest volcano in Ecuador. The volcano Chimborazo is 6,268 meters (20,564 ft) high above ground. Chimborazo is in very high altitude. We were given the opportunity to climb Chimborazo, but only to the first and second refuge. I was only able to climb to the first refuge because the high altitude was making me feel very dizzy. I was able to drink some hot tea and sit around a nice wood fire with some friends of the program. I must add that during this first week in the North part of Ecuador, it was very cold. I was not well informed that it was going to be cold in the Sierra region of Ecuador.

Overall, this past week has been a phenomenal week. I was able to learn a lot about the Ecuadorian history, and visit a lot of their historical landmarks. I am very pleased with my choice of study abroad program. All the people that I’ve encountered here thus far have been wonderful and helpful. The fall exchange group has been a wonderful support group for each other and I couldn’t ask for a better experiences then this one!






I have finally arrived to Quito, Ecuador. Traveling to Ecuador was not as easy as I thought it would be. Prior to my trip to Ecuador, I was a bit worried due to a hurricane that was near the coast of Miami where my connecting flight to Ecuador was. I was very nervous because there were speculations of the hurricane hitting the Miami area and that would mean that my flight would be cancelled; thankfully my flight was good to go. On the day of my trip it was very crazy day due to bad inclement weather in Miami. My plane from NY couldn’t land in the Miami airport because the airport was closed. Then once we finally got to Miami, the people from the airport had me running around like crazy. I had to jump from the plane and find my terminal. One thing I learned from this experience is to always keep your cool and ask questions—to several people just to make sure. After all the hassle in the Miami airport, I was finally able to find my terminal and relax till my plane arrived. Once in the plane, I was able to sit back and relax. Sitting next to me was a woman who is a Guayaquil native and she was telling me all the things I needed to know about the city of Guayaquil. I was very lucky to have met this lady because she made me feel more confident and comfortable with the idea of living in Guayaquil.
Once arriving to the Quito airport, I was able to quickly get out of my plane, go through customs, and pick up my luggage to head outside and find a representative from the university whom was waiting for me. Once I met up with him, I was able to chat with him and meet the other students that were already waiting for me as well. We headed back to the hotel and I made it to my room. It was a pleasant surprise to know that my roommate was a student from SUNY Newpaltz. Once I got into the room, my roommate was already asleep and had left me a really nice note on my bed introducing herself and giving me a warm welcome. After making a little bit of noise she wakes up and we soon clicked and became great friends.
The following day was amazing. I was able to meet the rest of the international students, whom are amazing people from all over the USA, France, Canada, Australia, Belgium, Taiwan, and Japan. Everyone is very fun to be around and very friendly. I immediately connected with almost everyone.
Today was the beginning of our week tour of Ecuador. We were able to visit the “Capilla del Hombre” which is a place where Guayasamin, a famous Ecuadorian put to display a lot of hit art work. His art works were really about the different races and the inequality that were found in the country. Through his work we were able to learn a lot more about the history of Ecuador.
Soon after the museum trip, we were able to hit the mall and grab some lunch. There, I was able to converse with the other international students and getting to know them better. After lunch we were able to visit historical landmark of Quito, Ecuador. We went to an amazing cathedral that is the biggest cathedral in all of Latin America. We then tour the city of Quito, visiting the Presidents palace, along with many other historical centers. Soon after our tour we went out to dinner and then hit the dance floor at a salsa club where we all were able to let loose and dance to Latin rhythms.
For the rest of the week we are heading out to different cities and towns of Ecuador to learn more about the country and its culture. We will be visiting the equator, indigenous weavers, Folk musicians, craft markets, and much more.

Home !

The much anticipated final blog has arrived, although it does not excite me to say I have been away from Buenos Aires for about 3 weeks now I must admit it is nice to finally be home with the people I love. It should be said that when arriving back to your home country you will feel various emotions coming at you at once and having do deal with these emotions requires patience. Having to say goodbye to new friends, taking your last pictures of all the places you once couldn’t imagine falling in love with and taking your last steps in a country you made your home will not be easy but it will be lovely. Having been home for about 2 weeks and having to travel to another country once again, made my coming home much easier but now that the traveling has ended I find myself melancholy about my past semester and how having to go back to New Paltz will be more difficult than I had anticipated. Reality strikes that I have been away for sometime and I will have to re adjust to the small town of New Paltz, although I am nervous my excitement to go back is not far behind.  So here is to my Senior year as a college Undergrad and thanking you all for following me on this wonderful, amazing, life changing journey.

Also, always remember to be patient – academically things may not always be on your side but do not panic if you are placed in Academic Probation after coming back from a semester abroad, you are one of several students and sometimes the system does not see that. So if things go wrong when you get back just remember to remain patient and work things out slowly and they will get better before you know it.

Thank You all,

Your settled traveler Vera

Dreams Do Come True

Since I started my freshmen year of college I knew I wanted to study abroad. Just the thoughts of getting on a plane to another country to live, learn the language and culture, and travel within the country and other surrounding countries has been something that I have been looking forward to doing for a long time. Here I am one week before my departure to Ecuador, and I can’t even believe this is actually going to happen. I am very pleased to embark on a life changing journey that will be filled with a lot of positive opportunities.

Planning this academic year trip to Ecuador has definitely been an experience of its own. After doing extensive research on all the different study abroad programs that are out there within the SUNY system, I realized that going to Guayaquil, Ecuador through SUNY New Paltz (NP) was going to be the best fit for me. I research the city of Guayaquil along with the university that I will be attending in Ecuador called La Universidad de Especialidades Espíritue Santos (UEES). I went on the university website to check out what kind of programs they offer such as classes, extracurricular programs, seminars, etc. I went on to youtube to see a virtual tour of the campus and the city of Guayaquil.

After getting accepted into the program, the process of doing all the necessary paper works has been a roller coaster ride. I had to speak with my advisors for class selections, making several visits to my home financial aid office, make several calls to my study abroad advisor from NP, and so on. The real challenge of making this trip a reality were all the ups and downs that I had encountered while attempting to get my student visa in the NYC consulate and all of the visits to the doctor’s office to get all of my vaccinations.

This summer was a summer like no other. I definitely had a lot going on.  Even though I had a lot of frustrating moments I knew that there was going to be a positive end result. I definitely learned a lot to make me a more successful, independent and responsible person. I must also say that both my study abroad advisors in NP and in Ecuador were important element in making this dream come true. They were able to get me through the few bumps that I had encountered and were always quick to answer me back with any question I had through email. It couldn’t have been easier without them.

There is one week left before my trip, and during this week I will begin packing, spending quality time with friends and family and prepare myself physically and mentally for what is about come.  I am very excited for the next couple of days to go on by.


Last week as a Porteña in Buenos Aires !

Little by little the people I have had the great opportunity to meet  in BsAs are going home, and my heart saddens a bit every time. Now my time has arrived, in just a few days I will be saying “hasta luego” to this lovely city I have called home for the past 5 months. Although I am terribly sad to see my time come to an end I will be making the best of the next few days and taking in the culture and people as best as I can. Travelers should always keep in mind, that traveling is NOT for the faint of heart, always keep and open mind and back pack full of emotions. Studying Abroad will get the BEST of you, the STRESS, the FUN, the SADNESS, the overwhelming JOY and finally your heart. Whether you come to enjoy or hate the place you have chosen to study abroad always remind yourself YOU create the experience YOU want to remember. If you don’t like the city you’re living in, remind yourself that no one else can say they’ve had the same opportunity you have or that they’ve been able to sit on their bed wherever you are and cry themselves to sleep. Whatever the case may be always embrace the moment and enjoy every second of it. Now that I have spent all of my money, stayed up late (attempting) reading, ran around the streets after leaving the club, slept in after some long crazy nights, cried about bad grades, meet some wonderful people, chanted “JUNIOR” at a pub, celebrated my 21st birthday and sharing several great experiences with loved ones- I can say I have seriously had the time of my life here in Buenos Aires. Here is to “See you soon’s” to new friends and having a GREAT last week.

Last trip in Argentina to Mar del Plata.

For just a few days I had the amazing opportunity to travel 5hrs to the south of Argentina to visit the coastal city of Mar del Plata. Although, it was a nice beach and wonderful view, I was not able to jump into the water considering its winter and I didn’t want to freeze to death. The city was actually bigger than I had anticipated and after 2 days my friends and I were able to visit the nice parts of it. From the largest sea shell collection in the world to a water tower and a small park  to relax in, I spent most of my days walking around sight seeing and trying to take as many pictures to remember the moment. My friends and I stayed in a small hostel called “El Refugio”, where the host weren’t really the most helpful or nice, in which we stayed in a six bed room with a different roommate every day. I should also warn travelers that not all hostels are as welcoming as the others, sometimes we just have to push through the stay and enjoy every moment. Another warning would be about the whether. Although you might have researched the place you’re traveling to in advance- whether always changes, therefore you should always be prepared to be unprepared. Enjoy the downs and faults of your trips- they always make for great stories later on. For example my grumpy mood due to the excessive random rain and cold winds make for a great blog about not being grumpy and enjoying the rain and cold winds.Overall, the city of Mar del Plata was truly a great experience, although cold and grumpy at times, it was truly wonderful.

La Plata and The beginning of the end.

This last weekend I had the opportunity to visit the capital of Buenos Aires, the city of La Plata. Although, it is a city and also the capital- La Plata was both small and adorable. It took my friends and I about 2 hours to walk from one end to the other. It was nice, quite and slow paced- the people seemed to keep to themselves and offer smiling faces. We had the chance to visit the Cathedral of La Plata  – which is one of the best known, along with the Zoo and the Science Museum. All of which were a great addition to out trip.

Along with a the nice trip to La Plata, I am finally able to say – I am done with my Junior Year of college. For many the semester has been over for about a month now, but for me the time is now. I finally emailed my last final paper and let out a hug sigh of relief. Now my vacation can begin !

The next few blogs will be short and sweet, about my last two weeks in Buenos Aires, Argentina. For many Studying Abroad is a way to learn about the world and themselves – but for me it has truly become a life chaging experience that is nearing its end.  Just the thought about having to leave my new home here is saddening, but with the beginning of the end  I will cherish every last bit of it.