Top 10 Things I Miss About Living in the United States
10. American football: Some of my friends went to a sports bar to try and watch the Bears play the Packers, but the game wasn’t on any of the channels. I’m sort of glad I didn’t see it, though, because it sounded painful for Bears fans to watch.
9. Wide, even sidewalks: Seriously, watch your step in Cuenca. They are only 1 foot wide or non-existent some places, the bricks are mostly uneven, and you will slip when it’s raining.
8. Snacks: Almost every house in the United States has some sort of snack cupboard or ready-to-eat food, but the families here just have raw fruits and vegetables lying around.
7. Wal-mart: Is it such a bad thing to miss everything being in one place, having a big selection, and low prices? Here, each type of item has a specific store. For example, you can only get band-aids at a pharmacy and nowhere else, and they don’t have “extra” items we’re used to at U.S. pharmacies like candy, magazines, etc. I have also learned that even though many items s are cheap here, that’s only local goods. Anything you could buy in the U.S. is about twice as expensive here.
6. Big dinners: In South America lunch is the big meal of the day, then dinner is fairly light (i.e. a small bowl of soup). Back home most of my food consumption occurs between the hours of 8pm and 2am. This doesn’t line up so well.
5. Safe food and water: We always have to drink (and brush our teeth) with bottled water, watch out for salads and certain fruits, have the constant risk of getting sick from the food, and there’s virtually no ice. All I want is 100% juicy American ground beef…I’m drooling.
4. Constant internet: I really can’t help that I am a facebook junkie. It’s a sad truth of many in my generation.
3. Cell phones: Never again will I take for granted not being able to call or text anyone at anytime.
2. Understanding what people are saying: It’s not a matter of me wishing that people here spoke English, but more a matter of wishing that I knew more Spanish!
1. Being near my friends and family: This one speaks for itself.
Top 10 Things I Love About Living in Ecuador
10. Openness of buildings: Almost none of the stores have your typical door, and if they do they are always open during the day…you just walk right in off the sidewalk. In a lot of places when you think you’re inside, there are still openings to the outside and you aren’t completely shielded from the weather. Even right outside my bedroom door is like this. It can make for some cold nights, but I like the outdoors so for the most part I don’t mind at all.
9. Haggling: The price tag at any store or market is never the final price. Getting things for cheaper than what the tag says is almost expected here because the price is always up to the store owner’s discretion. I found a jacket for $79 and haggled down to $58!
8. Fruit juice: At my house and in restaurants all the fruit juice is freshly squeezed every day and it’s heaven. Delicious! I’ll be sad to go back to mostly juice concentrate.
7. Exploring: Pretty much every day in the afternoon I go walking around the city of Cuenca with some friends. I really like finding new places to go and I am becoming very familiar with the city. I’m usually the one that is leading the way and knows where to go without getting lost.
6. Cheap food: Eating out at a nice place really only costs $4-$8 per person (including tip). Also, during breaks in class a lot of us go get a hot dog and fries for just 80 cents, and bottled water is usually around 30 cents.
5. Learning about a different culture: Not only have I never been out of the United States before this trip, but I knew practically nothing about Latin America beforehand. It’s fantastic to learn how others live, as well as get a new perspective on the way we live.
4. Mountains: Coming from the flat landscape of Illinois makes the impact of the mountains that much more special. It’s mind boggling how beautiful it is wherever we are traveling.
3. Tutto Freddo: The best ice cream EVER, and a cone is only 90 cents! I go there every day and get flavors that I have no idea what they are. Coldstone, eat your heart out.
2. My host family: I LOVE Mamá, Paúl, Juan, José, and Chopper (the dog). They are so funny, nice, welcoming, and patient with Jill’s and my Spanish. Every meal is entertaining, even if I don’t know what anyone is saying. I love especially how Chopper eats at the table with us…with his little plate, his paws up on the table, and wearing some sort of sweater or his pinstripe suit jacket. I could go on for pages.
1. New experiences: It’s so obviously different here from anything I have ever known, and trying new things is one of my favorite activities. I have climbed mountains, gotten soaked by waterfalls, eaten guinea pig (a delicacy in South American culture), began learning a new language, met many new people, and so many more things to which I can say, “I’ve done that!”