Studying abroad in Quito, Ecuador was one of the most extraordinary experiences in my life! I studied at La Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) in Ecuador in the summer of 2013 through the College Consortium for International Studies.
At USFQ I took courses in Ecuadorian culture and conversational Spanish. Being a kinesiology major and physical activity enthusiast, I could not help but take a weight training class as well. My classmates, now my amigos, included other international students and local Ecuadorians. It was a blessing to live with my wonderful host family during my nine weeks of stay in Quito. My family and the Ecuadorian people in general are incredibly accommodating. Their culture is so rich with spirit, love, and joy for life. Ecuador is very diverse not only in culture, with their different indigenous groups and lifestyles in various parts of the country, but also in ecology. They have the greatest variety of flora and fauna which amazed me almost every day I stepped outside. I swam in a waterfall, biked the Bosque Nublado (Cloud Forest), hiked in the mountains, and relaxed in a volcano lagoon! I explored a couple farms and markets, saw their cool artisan products, and tasted their vast variety of fruits, vegetables and grains. I also enjoyed dancing, training parkour/free running with local athletes, and working in a research study of a children's activities camp. The best moments were spending time with my family and local friends. My proficiency in Spanish improved tremendously, and the language now comes naturally to me.
I am majoring in Kinesiology and minoring in Spanish at K-State. I will continue my studies here and pursue a Masters in Kinesiology. The Office of International Programs as well as the Institute of International Education's (IIE) Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program granted me awards to study abroad. IIE also offers the Fulbright Program which sponsors professionals and graduate students to study, teach and/or conduct research in another country. I fully intend to apply to the Fulbright Program in a few years to return to Ecuador and conduct research. I encourage all students considering studies abroad to look into the Gilman Scholarship Program, the Office of International Programs, and other scholarship opportunities.
I absolutely fell in love with the Ecuadorian people and I plan to go back as well as explore other countries and cultures. I am blessed to have had this incredible opportunity, and I hope everyone considers studying, volunteering, interning, or just visiting abroad. Traveling internationally is not only fun, but it truly does expand one's perception and develops the person. I intend to travel abroad again and continue to learn, grow, and live life to the fullest.