Settling Into Cuenca

On a bus after the first week of adventures in Ecuador there were small bits of anxiety in the pit of my stomach as we are heading to Cuenca, Ecuador, the city in which I will be living for the next semester. We arrive at CEDEI and all of the students line up to meet their families for the first time and I am kindly greeted by my host mother. We swiftly leave CEDEI so that I can get acquainted with my new home. My schedule here is so different than back in the United States. On an average day, I wake up at around 6:30 A.M., get ready and have breakfast then start walking to school at 7:15 to get to class in-time for my 8 A.M. Spanish class. There is a thirty minute break between classes and then I head off to my Latin American Art History class at 10:30. I finish class by 12:30 am and walk home for lunch.

Here in Ecuador, almuerzo (lunch) is a big deal! A lot of the stores shut down, including the school, and the whole city basically has a universal break to spend time to get a good hearty meal with their loved ones. Lunch is the most important meal of the day for most families as everyone comes together and has soup, followed by rice, a meat, and a salad. After lunch finishes I usually have a bit amount of time before I start walking back to CEDEI at 2:15 for my second Spanish class at 3 P.M. After classes, most days my friends and I go to a coffee shop to get some homework done and if there is time we will explore the city and sometimes go to Baileterapia. Baileterapia is something I already know that I will miss about this city. It is free Zumba that takes place in the parks throughout the city– numerous people come together and get their dance on! Seriously, who knew exercise could be so fun!

After this, my day starts to wind down as I walk home and have dinner with my family. If I have more homework I will complete it and usually have a little time to chat with my besties from home.

Some side notes about CEDEI/daily life abroad:

-All of my classes are two hours and are small intimate class sizes. This gives you the ability to connect and know your professors. All of my classes have three to four students; I know others were either private classes or had around eight people. It really depens on which classes you take!

-There is a lot of walking! The trip from my house to school is about a 35 minute walk. I make this walk at least four times a day since I go home for lunch between my classes. In addition, for everything you do, you usually need to walk unless you want to take the bus (the bus from my house to school takes the same amount of time as walking) or take a taxi (significantly faster but will add up). The walking is not bad, but it does make you need to plan more!

-Meal portions and times are different! I pinky promise you that you will learn to make rice and mote (corn) your new best friends, because more likely than not you will be consuming them on a daily basis! Also, don’t forget to keep in mind that almuerzo is the most important meal of the day. Dinner will be significantly smaller. It takes a bit to get used to! Before I came here, I only had my mom’s chicken soup when feeling sick. Now I have soup everyday at lunch and I love it! I know getting accustomed to meals again in the USA will be weird! Haha

Settling in is very interesting process, but by the second day I already knew the route to my house like the back of my hand! Very excited for what the future holds!