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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The Paradox of Being a U.S. Intern in a Ugandan Refugee Settlement

There are things in life that all of the reading, videos and frantic Googling cannot prepare you for. My experience providing emergency relief and humanitarian aid for newly-arrived refugees in Uganda was one of them.

I am currently residing in the Kyangwali Refugee Settlement, where I spend my weekdays as an intern under the Humanitarian Aid sector for Action Africa Help (AAH), a non-governmental organization that supports communities in conflict and post-conflict situations (e.g. refugees and internally displaced people).

“The issues you will see here started long before you came and will continue long after you are gone.” This was one of the first things one of my intern supervisors at AAH told me when I reached the settlement.

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Student by Day, Tourist by Night

Before I arrived in Bangkok, I had a very clear idea of what my role here would be. I was going to be a student. I don’t mean to flaunt, but with a whole life of experience and a passion for learning, I think I’m pretty good at being a student. This confidence made me feel as though I had a leg up on the competition. It made me feel like taking the leap and spending six weeks in Thailand would be easy. I was both right and wrong.

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A Valuable Lesson Learned

When I decided to take a journey across the world five months ago, the first thing I was warned about was homesickness. “The first week will be the hardest,” they said. “You’ll miss every little thing about home, especially the things you wouldn’t expect.” Professors, fellow students, family and friends reiterated this more times than I can count. They made the first week sound absolutely treacherous.

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How to Afford Traveling (Working Student Edition)

I’ve been traveling internationally for the past 10 years and one question that I’m consistently asked is “how can you afford it?” As a full time student and restaurant server paying her own way in life, most people cannot understand how I could whisk off on an extended vacation every summer. Well, the answer lies in the bag of tricks I’ve accumulated along the way and below are a few of my best tips!

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