Week 1: Part 2 – Getting Oriented!

July 6, 2018

It is amazing how much can happen in only a few days. On Tuesday, I had my first day volunteering in the hospital and my first Spanish lesson. I was pretty nervous, and my adrenaline was definitely pumping! My first “rotation” in the hospital is in the emergency room, a specialty I am interested in. It was quite an adventure learning some of the vocabulary! Someone asked me to grab a “pañal” for them- a word that I had not previously heard. I went to the stock room and looked for the cabinet labeled “pañales” and there were a ton of items in the cabinet, so I was stuck. I ended up grabbing the wrong thing three times before I ended up grabbing the correct item- a diaper! I was pretty embarrassed, but I keep a little notebook with me where I write down all of the new words I learn, and now I am not having any troubles, thank goodness! After volunteering, I had my first Spanish lesson, and it was phenomenal! Being the first lesson, I just chatted with my teacher. He was asking me a lot of questions and he seemed to be evaluating my strengths and weaknesses with the language. Then, another teacher and their student joined us and we played a super cheesy-but super fun- Spanish conversation game out of a textbook. After that, I went to a salsa lesson and had a terrific time! In only an hour, I learned a ton. I liked it so much, I think I am going to start private salsa lessons here!

On Wednesday, I took a cooking class at the school! We made llapingachos, a traditional Ecuadorian food made of fried potato cakes (sort of like potato pancakes!) served with a peanut sauce. We also served chorizo, a fried egg, and avocado on the side. Given my lifelong love for anything potato, I thought the dish was delicious. I am definitely going to make it for my family when I go back to the states!

Today is Thursday, and I just got home from- you guessed it, another salsa lesson! I must have impressed the teacher on Tuesday because he was super tough on us today! I was struggling to keep up with all of the combined steps, but the challenge gave me a good workout! When I got home, I helped make empanadas, which we filled with chicken and cheese. After my dance-workout, I was starving and had three whole empanadas!

The last thing I want to mention in this blog is that life is what you make it. My first two days volunteering I felt a little lost, a little out of place. Today, I made it a personal goal to be more outgoing and take initiative. When I arrived at the hospital, I walked up to a group of three doctors that were chatting, introduced myself, and asked if there was any way I could help them. They immediately welcomed me and told me I could ask whatever questions I wanted. I got to help with a spinal chord injury from a bike accident, analyze an arterial blood gas test, take a CPR class, and more! The doctor also personally took me to do a cardiac ultrasound with him, where he explained everything he was doing. Although I enjoyed my first two days, I was able to see a lot more today, and all I had to do was introduce myself! It is scary being in a completely different country with different rules and norms, but it is a healthy fear, and overcoming it has already helped me so much! I am eager to see what else Ecuador has in store for me. So far, I’m in love with this country!