5 Takeaways From Study Abroad In Ecuador

5 Takeaways From Study Abroad In Ecuador

Swing by mi casa next year for some tasty homemade food!


Study abroad. Life changing? You hear people describe their experience abroad as so. And though it's a powerful phrase to use, likewise, I agree.

Having lived in Ecuador for two months, I am now at the halfway mark of my study abroad experience and already realize that my time here is an impactful one. Every day, I am learning a lot about the culture and reality of Ecuador and its people through my homestay, classes, and field trips around the country. Though immersed in Ecuadorian culture, I can't help but think about my return back to the U.S. and what my life will be like post-study abroad. How can I incorporate what I've learned here into my daily life at home? Will it be easy to fall back into the routine of SCU or will every day be a struggle with constant reminders of Ecuador? Only time will tell, but I know Ecuador will never leave my heart. Here are my 5 biggest takeaways from studying abroad in the middle of the world.

1. Intentional family and friends time


Jonathan Cito

When I go back to the U.S., I definitely want to be more intentional with my relationships and time spent with friends and family. Here in Ecuador, they value family a lot and every night, we're always eating dinner together. While in the past I would sometimes eat dinner super fast so I could go back to studying, I hope to organize some kind of daily schedule where I take a break from class, clubs, and work to sit down and eat with my family and friends. Because a meal is more than just eating food: it's also about building relationships and forming connections, sharing cultures, and laughing with the people we love and treasure.

2. Slow and mindful cooking

Pambamesa (kinda like a potluck) in the indigenous San Clemente community.


These past few weeks, I've eaten some of the freshest and homemade food I've ever had in my life. Unlike the U.S. where there is a huge culture of takeout and buying pre-made foods at the supermarket, there is an emphasis on slow and mindful cooking in Ecuador. My classes visited many indigenous communities in rural areas that don't eat processed food because it's inconvenient and unhealthy. Consequently? They just make all their foods from scratch and though it takes longer, it's soo worth it. Living here has inspired me to try more recipes and I can't wait to cook up a storm when I live off-campus next year. Swing by mi casa next year for some tasty homemade food!

3. Being aware of the people behind our foods

Harvesting yuca in the fields!

Bosque Escuela Pambiliño

Additionally, my field trips have given me the opportunity to visit many farms and plantations in communities where we would see crops grown in the fields, help with the harvesting, and then later that day would cook and eat the same foods. Literal farm-to-table cooking. The way I view produce after seeing it grown has given me a new perspective, so I am now more aware of the people behind all the foods I buy and consume. Before study abroad, I considered myself a conscious consumer, but at the same time, I am human, and I did buy foods if they were cheaper and more convenient. However, now, I will definitely think twice about my food purchases and who I'm supporting with my dollar.

4. Harmony with the environment and all living beings

Antisana, an ecological reserve in Ecuador.


Many indigenous communities live by the philosophy called Buen Vivir or Sumak Kawsay which translates to "good living" in English and means a harmony with all humans, living creatures, and the environment. The goal behind this concept of life is to not take advantage of nature and its resources but rather have a lesser impact and create an equilibrium among all living beings. Everyone and everything living is equal and has a value. Buen Vivir and Sumak Kawsay is very related to the spirituality of the people as well and has even been incorporated into Ecuador's 2008 Constitution as a guiding principle. I love this way of thinking and definitely want to keep it in mind with my current habits and future career.

5. Greetings and acknowledgements

Me with my American host sister!

Erika Rasmussen

In Ecuador, it's custom to greet and acknowledge everyone in the room when you arrive with a kiss on the cheek or a handshake. If you don't, you're considered rude and people will think you're mad at them. This was a big culture change coming from the U.S. where I've walked into a room and skipped the small talk, so I could immediately get to my point and be done with the conversation with whoever I was talking to. But it's not like that in Ecuador. Ecuadorians always ask, "¿Cómo está?" but actually truly care about your answer. (For the most part. There are always exceptions for everything.) Here's to the future me being more intentional with my greetings. To my friends and family reading this, please keep me accountable.

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Top 50 Things You'll Hear A Southern Say


For those of you who may need a little help understanding the slang of a southern, I made a list of the top 50 phrases and sayings, along with their translations.

1. Bless your heart.

My favorite saying. It is an empathetic phrase that is usually uttered when the speaker believes the recipient to be sweet, but misguided or stupid. It can also be used if the speaker believes the recipient needs to grow up and deal with it, when the speaker says it in a sarcastic tone.

2. Barking up the wrong tree.

Means being misguided or mistaken.

3. Aren't you precious?

Mostly this saying is used in a sarcastic tone in response to someone being offensive.

4. Britches.

Pants or underpants.

An example would be, "Your britches are too short, you can't wear those".

5. Coke.

Regardless if it's Dr. Pepper, Coca-Cola, or another carbonated beverage, it's called Coke here in the South.

6. Fixin' to.

Simply means that you are about to do something.

7. Get the short end of the stick.

This phrase means that you basically got an unfair deal or cheated out of something.

8. Give Me Some Sugar.

Simply means give me a kiss.

9. Hissy Fit.

A hissy fit is a grown-up version of a temper tantrum that is as bad as one that a toddler would throw.

10. Hold Your Horses.

Be patient.

11. Holler.

When you say "holler" you are basically letting the other person know something.

Example: Holler at me when you are ready to get something to eat.

12. If the creek don't rise.

This saying simply means that if nothing bad happens, everything will go as planned.

13. You're as slow as molasses in the wintertime.

This phrase means that you are being EXTRA slow.

14. Muddin'.

Off-road four-wheeler riding with the intentions of getting mud everywhere and possibly losing control.

15. Skat Cat.

A phrase that can be used instead of saying "God bless you" when you sneeze.

16. There's Not A Pot Too Crooked That A Lid Won't Fit.

There is someone for everyone.

17. Pitcher.

We mostly mean a plastic container that holds sweet tea, not the position of a guy on the baseball team.

18. Reckon.

When you say "I reckon", you believe that something is true.

19. Hoot With The Owls, Soar With The Eagles.

This simple phrase means that if you are going to stay up all night, you should be able to get early in the morning.

20. Too Big For Your Britches.

Simply means that you take yourself too seriously.

21. Stompin' Grounds.

Your hometown or where you grew up.

22. Back In The Day.

Back in the day could be a month ago, a year ago, or 20 years ago.

23. You're A Spitting Image Of (Insert Family Member).

Yes, I know I'm a spitting image of my mother. "Spitting image" simply means that you look just like someone.

24. "Darlin, Sugar, Sweetheart"

These words are simply terms of endearment.

25. Buggy.

A buggy is a cart/basket at the grocery store.

Example: Who wants to push the buggy?

26. Quit Crying Or I Will Give You Something To Cry About.

This phrase simply means to quit crying and if you didn't then more than likely you got a spanking,

27. Where You Raised In A Barn?

If you are from the South, you have probably been asked this more than once, especially when you left a door open.

28. Close The Door. You Are Letting All The Good Air Out.

This southern heat is nothing to play with. It simply means to keep the door closed so the air (or heat if its winter) stays inside.

29. You Are Going To Make Me Lose My Religion.

When you say this phrase to someone, it more than likely means that person has done something to irritate you or made you mad. Thank goodness Jesus saves.

Example: You are going to make me lose my religion.

30. You Look Like A Chicken With Your Head Cut Off.

This is said when you are running around like a crazy person. It can be said if you are looking for something that you are searching for or if you are just really busy.

31. Y'all.

The southern way to say "you all".

32. You Can't Carry A Tune In A Bucket.

If you've ever been told this, it means that you can't sing.

33. Have Their Feathers Ruffled.

You normally have your "feathers ruffled" when you are pouting.

34. Two Peas In A Pod.

When you and someone else are "two peas in a pod", it means that either you almost always together or that you two are almost identical in the way you think and do things.

35. Well Butter My Butt And Call Me A Biscuit.

This saying can be used when you are surprised or excited.

36. Don't Let The Door Hit Ya Where The Good Lord Split Ya.

When someone say this they typically mean to get out and don't let the door hit you on the way out.

37. You're As Good As Gold.

When you are "as good as gold", it means that you are well-behaved and obedient.

38. It's Raining Cats And Dogs Out There.

This simply means that the rain is really coming down hard. It's not actually raining cats and dogs, people.

39. I'm Full As A Tick.

This phrase means that you ate too much food.

40. I'm Sweating More Than A Sinner In Church.

When someone says this, it means that they are really hot and sweating A LOT.

41. Pot Calling The Kettle Black.

This phrase is used when one person is guilty of the very same thing of which they accuse another person.

42. There's More Than One Way To Skin A Cat.

It means that there is anyways more than one way to fix something.

43. Shut Yo' Mouth.

Means to be quiet or hush up.

44. Whatever Floats Your Boat.

This saying means to do whatever you want to do.

45. Slap Yo' Momma.

This phrase means that something is good.

Example: This BBQ is slap yo' momma good.

46. She's Like A Bull In A China Shop.

When you tell someone this phrase, you are telling them that they are clumsy or careless in the way that they move.

47. Cuttin' A Rug.

Cuttin' a rug is used to describe dancing.

Example: Let's go cut a rug tonight.

48. Clicker.

A clicker is another name for a TV remote.

49. Slow Your Roll.

This also means to be patient.

50. You're A Hot Mess.

When you tell someone that they are a "hot mess", you are simply telling them that they don't have it together.

Cover Image Credit: silhouetteamerica.com

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11 Ways To Travel More And Spend Less

Airbnb is just the beginning.


Everyone wants to travel, but it can be really expensive, especially if you are in college and have a lot of other expenses. Here are a few different ways you can travel while still staying on budget. These are just some of the ways you can reduce travel costs.

1. Airbnb

A hotel that got four and a half stars in the reviews costs $245 a night in New Orleans, Airbnb has options for as low as $28 a night that has five stars rated by over 130 people. In San Francisco, a five star Airbnb costs $46 a night where a four and a half star hotel costs $199. So if you are comfortable with renting out someone's space for a bit, it's a great option.

2. Get a hotel membership

If you aren't comfortable with staying in strangers' homes, this is another great way to save money. Earn rewards and free visits by sticking to one hotel chain. This might be hard if you travel abroad but it will certainly help in the states.

3. Last minute airline deals

If you want to travel to Florida in two days, take a look because airlines often lower prices and have last minute deals. I would be okay going in two days if the plane ticket price went down to $98. And for New Orleans, the flight price dropped from $400 to $155 for a round trip ticket. If I leave for Dubai in four days, my round trip ticket is $984 instead of being around $1300. So if you can get up and go in a short period of time, look out for deals like these.

4. Round trip vs. one way tickets

Most people just go automatically into booking a round trip ticket, but sometimes it is actually cheaper to get two one way tickets. So just take a look before you book the tickets.

5 . Eating on vacation

It may not be as exciting as eating out every night, but even just bringing enough for your own breakfast and snacks will save you a ton of money by the end of your trip.

6. Eating at home

Or if you really want to go out on vacation, eat cheaper when you are home. Cook more, go out less — this will save even more money than the previous suggestion. Or even better, do both.

7. Get a credit card with points or miles

This way everything you do will help you do more things in the future, while helping pay for what you want to do now.

8. In terms of saving up, ask for money

If you really want to travel, for every holiday and birthday, ask for money or gift cards, then save it up to go away.

9. Use public transportation

Instead of taking an Uber or taxi everywhere, use public transportation.

10. Use apps

If you are going out of the country, use apps to call and text people instead of paying for a very expensive phone plan. WhatsApp is a very popular option.

11. Withdraw money, don't exchange

Many times you can avoid fees or at least minimize them by withdrawing money while in the country you are visiting rather than paying exchange rate fees.


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