By Zach Evans
The following are excerpts from Zach’s original blog: Reflections of an Immersion in Ecuador.
¡Hola a todos!
For the academic year of 2014-2015, I will be studying abroad at Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador. I chose to study in Ecuador because of USFQ’s renowned reputation as one of the premier research institutions of the world. Research from USFQ has been published numerous times in National Geographic, Nature, and other reputable research journals. Ecuador is the most biodiverse country on the planet with four distinct ecosystems. I will be living with a host family and continuing to work toward my degrees in Psychology and Latin American studies. My goals are to broaden my worldview, to become bilingual, and to explore the four ecosystems Ecuador has to offer: the Andes mountains, La Costa (some of the most beautiful beaches in the world according to various sources), the Amazon Jungle, and the Galapagos Islands.
Here is a video of the sustainable tourism movement, All You Need Is Ecuador. It’s only three minutes long and shows a lot of the activities I hope to do while I’m here.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in Ecuador thus far. My host family is beyond amazing and my school has far exceeded my expectations.
Here is a picture of the Carrillo-Galvez family I’ll be living with until May. The guy in the blue shirt is their last foreign exchange student who was surprisingly from Asheville! I’ve never met him. They’ve had many over the past ten years… son profesionales!
Our house is at the base of Mount Pichinch in the urban sector of Quito called Concepcion.
Let me tell you a bit about my host family…
Pachingo, mi padre, is a doctor. He retired a few years ago, but was unsatisfied with the retired life so he went back to practicing medicine. He is so friendly- he has taken me under his wing as if I were his own son…Pachingo loves teaching me lessons about Ecuador. Each night after dinner, we talk for an hour or so on a different topic. One topic which resonated with me quite heavily was a discussion about the differences between environmental conservation priorities between the US and Ecuadorian government. Although there are preserves and national parks in Ecuador, the US’s demonstrated care for the preservation of it’s natural beauty is evidently unparalleled. I am incredibly grateful for Pachingo’s consistent words of wisdom and his help with my acclimation to Ecuador.
About my Spanish…these past few days have taught me that my Spanish is much better than I thought! I came to Ecuador very down on myself about my Spanish speaking abilities (telling people I spoke like a 6 year old) and regretted not pushing myself harder in the first two years of Spanish at ECU. I always thought there was a fault in the foreign language education system in the States because the basic courses require hardly any speaking. Although this may be true, my two years at ECU and my classes at Carolina Day School in high school equipped me with the skills necessary to be at least competent in conversations. I seldom have problems understanding what people are saying, yet often have problems coming up with sentences on the spot. I am not too worried about this because I see my Spanish improving daily and I am sure that this won’t be an issue after another week or so.
My courses this semester will be:
Seminar on the Psychology of Religion
Introduction to Ecuadorian Culture
Intermediate Spanish Conversation
Introduction to International Relations
¡Saludos y muchas gracias amigos!