Junior Immersion in Quito: Introduction

1By Ryo H., guest blogger and Junior Immersion in Quito participant

Mucho gusto, me llamo Ryo. 

Today is the second day of a month long trip to Ecuador, and I am beat.  The trip just to get to Ecuador was something by itself.  The worst part wasn't the 10 hours spent in a plane or the 4 hour layover in the Miami airport.  It was waking up at 3 am, getting to the airport, and waiting for hours, just to find out our plane was cancelled.  To top it off, the next plane was not until the following day at the same time, 3am, so i had to wake up at the crack of dawn two days in a row.  We finally arrived in Quito late that night and my host mother, Susana Garcia, picked us up.  Once we arrived at their pad, we met the son Carlos, age 12, and daughter Andrea, age 21.  I slept very little that night and woke up not so bright but early for school the next morning.  Between fooling around at the airport, the long plane ride, lack of sleep, and the high altitude, Ecuador has made me a tired camper these first few days.

(Photo: Taken at the end of our hike in the cloud forest, picture of me along with my best friends, left to right, Ryo, Marcellus, Garrett)

For months I have been waiting for this trip and finally I am here along with my two best friends, Garrett and Marcellus.  I am 16 years old and attend Albany High School in California.  I am participating in the Junior Immersion in Quito program, arranged by Amerispan.  Amerispan has tons of countries and programs to choose to visit and I ended up in Quito, Ecuador.  Amerispan works with a school in Quito, where I attend class 4 hours out of the day, eat lunch, and participate in the activities they host.

School, at least these first couple days, is long and tiring.  It's four hours in the morning from 8:30 to 10:00, a 30 minute break, and from 10:30 to 1:00.  Although that may not seem that long, concentrating on translating every word someone says and learning Spanish grammar is very exhausting.  After class, however, the school provides lunch for the group; today we had a warm creamy soup with garlic bread on the side.  The group is very diverse, 7 from Portland, Oregon, 1 from Washington D.C., 3 from Orlando, Florida, and 4 from California.  Many kids came by themselves- only 2 people from Oregon were friends before the trip to Ecuador. Since everyone is new to each other, making new friends is easy. 

Quito_school_regresarAfter lunch is a group activity, today we went to an elementary school and played with the kids there. We played a game, where the objective was to introduce whatever kid had decided to latch onto you.  All the local kids are really nice, adorable, easy to befriend, and intrested in whatever someone does or says.  Ecuadorian kids seem like angels compared to those in the U.S.  I think this is because they do not have so many material goods in their life. They seemed much more happy and appreciative of their new buddies.  After that I returned home with my friends, ate dinner, did my homework, watched a movie with Carlos, and went to bed.

I like Ecuador.  I have only been here a few days but so far it seems fun, interesting, and best of all, it's a relief to get out of my hometown of Albany.  I was a bit worried that I might get homesick, but I'm sure by the end of the month I will not want to return back home.

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