Hola mis amigos . . . . como estan? In this l-o-n-g post, I have written about 5 activities in my Ecuadorian life. I wrote from my perspective in the past, present and future. I hope you can see how things have progressed – and changed – during my time here. I also think you might enjoy reading about my hope for the future in each category. So . . . here is the scoop on what is happening in my life in Ecuador these days. Enjoy!
- Pasado: I started Spanish lessons with my teacher, Cesar, at the end of November. We began meeting 5 days a week for 2 hours each time. However, since my teaching schedule got busier this past cycle, we only met 3 to 4 days a week. Also, because I had more of a demand with my English classes, I was unable to make time to do Spanish homework. Argh! I feel that during this time, my growth in Spanish was minimal because I didn’t have time to practice on my own. However, even without homework, any Spanish conversation is helpful.
- Presente: Currently, I feel like my Spanish ability is at an early intermediate level. I can often communicate my thoughts, but lack correct grammar and consistently understanding others when they speak to me – unless it’s really slow, which I love. Now, I meet Cesar at a restaurant to take my Spanish class. He and his wife recently opened a seafood restaurant, so it is much more fun to talk with him, his wife and at times (when they will look at me or talk with me), their children. We still meet 3 to 4 days a week and still have the opportunity to speak in Spanish for about 2 hours.
- Futuro: I am hoping to be able to (somehow!) make time for more Spanish outside of class. I spoke with the director of my English school last week about how he learned Spanish. I was in complete awe of him because he taught himself! He said that he wrote in a journal everyday, used flashcards when he had a spare moment, and would check his grammar on his own. Wow! With that inspiration, I hope to begin a Spanish journal a few days a week and start to utilize flashcards more effectively in order to improve my Spanish communication.
- Pasado: Last cycle, I continued to teach two Level 7 English classes each evening (5:00pm and 7:00pm). I also began teaching a third English class in the afternoons at 3:00pm. This new class meant that I needed to leave my house at 2:15pm and was gone for the rest of the day – until about 9:15pm. While I really enjoyed this new class, it changed my schedule drastically to where I had to do all of my planning in the morning before classes – and somehow squeeze in a 2 hour Spanish class. Do you see why I didn’t have time for Spanish homework now? Yeesh!
- Presente: During the current teaching cycle, I have the exact same schedule as last cycle. However, I am slowly learning to manage my time a bit better and don’t feel as overwhelmed with my time outside of class. In addition, during my two evening classes, I feel as though these classes are by far my favorite students and I truly have enjoyed my time with these new students!
- Futuro: With my new (wonderful) students, I am really excited to spend with them and guide them to learn English. These students really want to learn English and are mature enough to have fun at the same time. While we have only spent a week together so far, I hope to use the skills I learned from teaching Level 7 during the two other cycles to make this their a great learning experience for my students. And finally, I have s-l-o-w-l-y figured out how to integrate speaking, listening, writing, and vocabulary into the classroom without feeling like we are zooming from one activity to the next.
- Pasado: Oh goodness, where do I begin? Socially, my time in Ecuador has been a definite growth opportunity for me (that’s a sugar-coated way of saying that it has been difficult). It has been hard for me to make all new friends and try to get to know people at a heart-level. Afterall, every person I have met during my time in Ecuador has been new in my life and sometimes that gets overwhelming and exhausting. Sure it can be exciting too, but making friends is hard work! Needless to say, I have had some emotional ups and downs in regards to making friends, but have thankfully gotten to know a few great people too.
- Presente: Currently, my relational “anchors” in Riobamba are a friend of a teacher from school, Soraida, and my Spanish teacher, Cesar. I see them both on a regular basis. Thank goodness! I believe that Cesar and Soraida have become my “anchors” because they show me that they appreciate me and help me feel valued. They also make me think about life . . . and make me laugh. 🙂 I am quite thankful for these two individuals in my life.
- Futuro: My hope for myself relationally is to push myself to be slightly uncomfortable and spend more time being social with some of the new people in my life – even at times when I don’t want to. While this can sometimes be difficult for me, I also know it can be healthy for me in the long-run too.
- Pasado: Before I came to Ecuador, I wanted to travel everywhere possible – whenever I could. Shortly after arriving in Riobamba and traveling for several weekends in a row, I quickly realized that I did not want to travel as much as I had originally thought. There was both a craving and a comfort to stay in Riobamba and get to know the city where I was living. Therefore, I started to minimize my traveling and got to know my “Ecuador hometown” a little bit better.
- Presente: Recently, I have felt like traveling a little bit more – maybe because I had taken the time during my first few months to get to know Riobamba. I’m not exactly sure why this desire to travel has been reignited, but it has been nice to explore a few other cities and relax with others during the weekend. For example, just this past weekend I traveled to Cuenca, an amazingly beautiful city in Ecuador.
- Futuro: In the coming months, I hope to travel to some other nearby cities so I can soak in Ecuador a little bit more. Also, because it sometimes gets lonely on the weekends, it is nice to spend time with other people from WorldTeach on the weekends. And for a BIG goal for my future travel plans, I am hoping (nothing is finalized yet) to take a big trip with a friend from college to the Galapagos at the beginning of May.
- Pasado: When I was making my final plans to live in Ecuador for a year, I had many goals for myself. These goals were to: strengthen my relationship with Christ, travel as much as possible, develop into a creative and engaging English teacher, become fluent in Spanish, get to know as many people as possible and build meaningful relationships with them, and practice “relaxing” more frequently. While these might sound like hefty goals, I feel like I have been able to address many of them during my time here. Meet all of them? No. But, work on each of them in various ways? Yes.
- Presente: I do not want it to be a secret that things have been very difficult for me over the past month or so. After the six month mark of living in Ecuador, much of the excitement and novelty that comes with living in a foreign country began to slowly fade. Relationships back home became more difficult and I started to miss my daily routine in St. Louis. I miss home – plan and simple. I have learned that regardless of where you are living, after awhile, life is still life. We tend to get into the “daily grind” of life wherever we are – even in a country as beautiful as Ecuador. As I mentioned, I am still working on making the best of my time here, but I am also thankful that I am starting to see glimpses of July 2, which is my return date to the United States.
- Futuro: In the coming days, weeks and months, I hope to become better at: connecting with others in Riobamba and around Ecuador, stretching myself socially by putting myself “out there” more often, enjoying my students by laughing in the classroom more and making our learning more fun, and speaking confidently in Spanish.
Whew! You made it! Thanks for reading through all of that. Now, I want to hear from you! What has been happening in your life in the past, present and future? Share with me. Please, please, please post a comment and let me know what you are up to these days. Thanks! 🙂