Overcoming Pre-Departure Hurdles

Well, I have made it ! I arrived in France 6:55 a.m., August 26.

The flight itself was fairly lengthy — about 14 hours total — however, this moment itself has been a long time in the making. I have dreamed about this for almost a lifetime and made it my goal about three years ago; to not just study abroad but to extend my stay for as long as possible, which to date is about 10 months.

I battled through classes, homework, financial stresses and personal loss. I have overcome many challenges in my life and have surmounted the odds … truly. I am very, very fortunate and privileged to be where I am now, not only in France about to embark on the experience of a lifetime, but probably one of my most important experiences in life.

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Ecuador: Radiating Gratitude

I have observed a different world in just two months of working at a small ecotourism agency, and living completely immersed in the culture of Ecuador. The most important thing I’ve learned is to appreciate the small things.

A mentality that I plan on bringing home with me — and one that we could all benefit from adopting — is that of gratitude. Gratitude for mother earth, gratitude for our successes and gratitude for family.

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Don’t Even Try to Escape the World Cup

Let me start off by mentioning that the country that I am living in (Ecuador) did not qualify for this year’s World Cup. That being said, talk of soccer is still heavily present in every conversation and every inch of this country. If there’s not a game being played at the time, there will be conversations surrounding yesterday’s unbelievable game, or the anticipation for tomorrow’s game.

Got somewhere to go? You don’t even have to worry about missing the game when you leave the house, because it will be broadcasted on the radio in the car on your way over. And I can say with certainty that it is being shown at your destination. If there is a television showing the World Cup, you will find people flocking to watch, even if they are not customers. Everyone is invited to take part. And surprisingly, I have never seen anyone turned away from watching even without a purchase.

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