In eleventh grade, I was mistakenly put into a class that turned out to be my favorite class I ever took in high school. I had never heard of International Business and after taking the class I still didn’t know much about it, but what I did know was that it would be my major in college.
That same year of high school, I took a family vacation to London, Paris, and Rome that only confirmed my college major. The culture and beauty that lied within travel completely enamored me. I was left in awe of how something so unfamiliar to me, such as European culture and language, could be so familiar to natives. It fascinated me that speaking Italian and driving a scooter through cobblestone streets could be a part of everyday life for someone, especially for someone like me who is from the small town of Indiana, PA. It was then I realized that culture is not meant to point out and ridicule differences between ethnic groups and force conformity, but rather to recognize and embrace the beauty in lifestyles in comparison to our own. This is why I love International Business. It seamlessly connects commerce across borders and successfully recognizes cultural variations between countries to meet the same business goals. This trip stirred passions in me to travel that ultimately led me to this new adventure.
Before scheduling my classes every semester I would look at my program evaluation and see that I still needed to complete my study abroad requirement. This continued throughout most of my college career until finally the long awaited for moment had arrived. Next thing I knew I had been accepted to the Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador, and was well underway in my preparations to head to South America.
A question I was not prepared to answer was, “Why Ecuador?” I do not have a strong response to this question, other than I feel it is exactly where I am supposed to be this fall. However, in further conversations with people, I quickly found out that very few people know anything about Ecuador or can even locate it on a map (it is on the western side of South America above Peru). This uncovered even more excitement for me because I cannot wait to share all that I experience with those around me. I look forward to visiting indigenous communities, exploring the rainforest, smelling fresh flowers on rose plantations and contemplating social injustices that I see. People also ask me how I feel about this trip. They know I must be feeling scared and nervous, but the truth is I am feeling an overwhelming sense of peace; a peace that transcends all understanding. It is truly amazing what you are capable of doing when you allow fear to have no authority in your life.
In some respects I feel “old” to be studying abroad since I am going into my last semester of eligibility, but I am grateful for the ways my experiences have matured me these last few semesters. I would not be as appreciative and equipped for this calling as I am now.
So while for some students studying abroad is meant to fulfill a graduation requirement, I am studying abroad as a response to a calling put on my life. I am excited to step into that calling and uncover what lies ahead for me in South America.
Thank you everyone for your thoughts and words of encouragement throughout these next four months. I hope that in some way this blog will give you insight into Ecuadorian life, and allow you to see the goodness in the culture and traditions of South America.