I traveled to a new country away from all the people who understand me best.
I conjugated Spanish verbs on the spot.
I lived with a mom, dad, and three siblings but it still didn't feel like a family.
I lost my independence.
I climbed a mountain that was a straight inclined upwards. With paths so narrow I could only walk with one foot in front of the other.
I learned to advocate for myself in a different language.
I discovered Reggaeton.
I told myself I didn't like him.
I fell in love with him anyway.
I started texting more and changed my relationship from anti-technology.
I went to school for 8 hours only to go back to my homestay and do 6 more hours of work.
I questioned why the Ecuadorian meat industry was so prominent if there's the model of Buen Vivir.
I connected more to my vegan identity.
I saw the effects of the oil industry in the Amazon rainforest.
I became homesick for tofu.
I lost sight of who I thought I was.
I texted him more of my heart than anyone has ever known.
I drank too much wine.
I learned the Ecuadorian bus system.
I started budgeting.
I craved Mexican food.
I satisfied my Mexican craving in the charming, cobblestoned city of Cuenca. (Shoutout to El Santo in Centro Historico. 10/10.)
I found it difficult to relate to the people around me.
I realized the value of my friendships back home.
I lived on a farm that raises cows for meat.
I made friends with baby goats.
I was judged for being vegan and "not truly experiencing culture."
I fell asleep to raindrops on the rooftop.
I woke up to no running water.
I went vegetarian for Thanksgiving.
I got asked about China. Multiple times. (Most Ecuadorians couldn't fathom an Asian-American living in the U.S.)
I felt more connected than ever to my Asian roots.
I learned about the dilemma of economic development vs. environmental conservation.
I listened to stories of childhood, where hunger was commonplace and college and flying planes were meant for the movies.
I made coffee from bean to cup.
I started the screenplay that's been on my to-do list for a year.
I dreamt about loving an old friend yet again.
I became scared of returning to the U.S.
I found myself. Slowly, over and over.
I got mosquito bitten 125+ times.
I watched monkeys climb trees from the kitchen window.
I danced some more.
I learned to say no.
I said yes.