Savoy ’14 Experiencing Difference in Cultures

Larry Savoy ’14 – My 20th birthday was spent in Ecuador! This is something that I will always cherish. Our coordinators Tania and Roxana decided to surprise me with a delicious birthday cake that I greatly appreciated and shared with my colleagues, Professor Hardy, and our Ecuadorian professors. I must say, it was quite amusing when everyone sang Happy Birthday to me in Spanish and knew very few of the words. Nonetheless, it all made for a very memorable birthday.

One thing that I love about being in Quito is waking up every morning to the mountains and nearly perfect weather. But of course, there’s the occasional shortness of breath when doing simple things such as climbing stairs or walking up a hill that can be frustrating at times. Thank you, high altitude. Some of the guys have hiked the Pichincha Mountain and told us how exhausting it was. I haven’t had the chance to do this yet, but I’m actually really looking forward to the view of the city that one gets to see once at the top.

When we arrived in Quito it was very late — almost 12 midnight on May 28th. I was warmly welcomed by my host mom in the airport and the first thing that took my attention was how closely she spoke to me when conversing and kissed me on the cheek as soon as I told her, “Soy tu hijo.”(I’m your son). This is something that is perfectly acceptable in their culture but on the other hand it’s not every day in the US that you meet someone for the first time and get a strong hug and a kiss. Intimacy is taken to an entirely different level … at least based on my experience.

Moreover, my first weekend in Ecuador was spent traveling to a city named Otavalo which offers a large variety of touristic activities which I had the pleasure of experiencing. Ironically, according to people of Ecuador, Otavalo is supposed to be the where the true indigenous people and customs of Ecuador are but I could hardly notice the difference. Otavalo was modernized in many ways.

SPANISH, SPANISH, SPANISH. I knew that we would speak Spanish throughout the trip, but hearing it during lectures, on the bus, at home, in restaurants, everywhere, for hours on end definitely tests how much of the language I know. So far, my confidence in speaking has increased tremendously, which I am extremely proud of.

Our module, of course, this year is the Afro Ecuadorian culture, and I’ve learned a lot about the history, traditions, and music of Afro Ecuadorians. The dance moves were pretty challenging! With these steps, I’ll have something to impress people with whenever I return to the United States. Now that our time studying in the University is coming to a close, we will be spending the remainder of our immersion trip traveling along the coast of Ecuador. I’m expecting to learn a great deal of information along the way. I’ll be sure to keep you guys updated about my experiences in Ecuador!

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