Monday, May 25, 2015

From Goshen to Quito!

          Like usual, I have been meaning to write for a long time. I especially hoped to write last week to process some of the great things that have happened before I left for my next adventure. Alas, here I am writing from Quito, Ecuador. So let me quickly write about the last two weeks before I reflect on my first impressions of this beautiful city.
          Many things happened in the last few weeks. First, I made a new friend in Goshen. This was an unexpected friendship and one that became very deep very quickly. With this friend, I have been able to be vulnerable but still wholly accepted and I think I was able to do the same for them. These are the types of relationships that give me energy and confidence. Because of these deep conversations, I can live more fully into who I want to be. Even though this friend moving away, I am really thankful for the time we had together and the chance to get to know someone on a deeper level.  
          Last weekend was also amazing as my dear friend from college, Rachel, flew in. I picked her up from Chicago last Thursday and brought her back to Goshen. I introduced her to my friends and on Friday I took her to class and the we went to all the best spots in Goshen. I loved showing her my new home and it made me more excited about Goshen itself. Saturday we headed into Chicago where we met up with our friend Anna. It was Anna's birthday so we went out to eat (at an amazing vegan restaurant) and hung out. Sunday we got up extremely early to go downtown to run the half marathon. It was an amazing race! I finished eleven minutes faster than my last half and a lot faster than I had been training. Rachel also did amazing. After visiting the Bean (a Chicago landmark) we showered and then headed back downtown for deep dish pizza and a trip up the Sears tower. My legs were completely dead by the end of the day and my mind wasn't working great either. Monday morning we went out for brunch then shopping. We ended our time together drinking coffee and eaton an amazing cookie sitting outside talking and watching the world pass by. It was a golden moment.
          I returned to crazy paper writing to finish up the semester. I did not put in my best effort at the end, but I learned so much in my classes this semester and I think I did well with the balance between school, work, running, and socializing. In my last few days in the U.S. I worked quite a few hours, packed, and spent time with friends. Saturday night was also another perfect night as I went out to the new Goshen Brewing Company with a good friend. The weather was perfect, the beer was tasty, and company enjoyable. I realized how I have fallen in love with Goshen and as excited as I am to be in Ecuador, I am excited to return  to Indiana.
          But now, Ecuador! So my cousin Cara and I were talking over Christmas and realized that we both wanted to learn Spanish. We had already traveled together in Europe so we thought why not do another continent together. After much research and conversations, we decided on Ecuador. Mostly, the Spanish has an easy accent to understand and I really wanted to be in mountains. So here I am in the capital city of Quito! I flew from Chicago yesterday and Cara will join me tomorrow. So far, it has been excelante!! We are staying with a host mom who doesn't speak any English but is super kind and a great cook! I have been amazed at my ability to understand and speak as I haven't studied Spanish in six years and never learned it well. The house is really nice. There is another student staying here also and we all get our own bedrooms and bathrooms. We will eat breakfast and dinner here everyday and then find lunch somewhere by our school.
          It takes about 20-25 minutes to walk to school. I had my first classes today and I already love my teachers! I was by myself but Cara and I will be together when she arrrives. The plan for our two weeks in Quito is to have four hours of lessons in the morning, focusing mostly on grammar and then two hours in the afternoon where we walk around the city and work on conversation. Today was a lot of beginning conversation and trying to remember all the Spanish I have forgotten. For the afternoon, it began to rain a little so my teacher took me to where you can get amazing, fresh juice. It was possibly the best thing I have ever drunk! (I forget the name of the fruit... We don't have it in the U.S.) After resting at home, I went back to school for a lecture on the history of Ecuador. It was in Spanish, but very easy Spanish and extremely interesting. Then it was home for dinner and then homework. The school offers a different activity every night including cooking and dancing classes! I am so excited for everything. 
          Cara and I plan to be here in Quito two weeks, then one week in the city of Cuenca, and then a week on the coast, taking Spanish classes the whole time. So far, I love the country. The mountains are beautiful and the weather is perfect (jeans and cardigan weather... My favorite)! The city seems great so far and I really cannot wait to see more! I fear that these four weeks are going to fly by and I won't want to return.

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