I´ve been in Ecuador for... four days now, and my head hurts. There´s so much Spanish all around me, and my brain is trying to translate all of it! I spend a lot of my day staring into space as I eavesdrop on the conversation behind me. But en realidad, there´s actually more English than I expected. My host dad, Marco, understands English, but I refuse to speak it with him (I´m here to learn Spanish not English!). My closest friend so far is another international student from Oregon, also named Rachel (we both go by Raquel here!). She speaks Spanish basically fluently, but we speak English together usually. Sometimes, I´d rather speak Spanish, but it really does take a ton more effort, so it´s good for me to rest sometimes. Besides, when we promise to speak Spanish together, we spend a lot of time sitting quietly because we don´t care enough to talk, and that´s no way to cement a friendship!
My classes are all in Spanish, and they started today. I was really worried about them- everyone told me that the classes were the same difficulty as those at Linfield but in Spanish. Totally not true! I have four ¨real¨ classes and three ¨fun¨ classes. Today´s classes were all real. I started with Temas de America Latina- a political science class. The professor spoke quickly, but the words weren´t too difficult and I followed pretty well. I have a tape recorder (thanks Grandma!) that I will use to record all my lectures so I can play them back again more slowly if need be. Temas seems like an interesting class, and it´s FULL of students from the US (We have to be careful about calling ourselves Americans. Guess what? Ecuadorians are American tambien!)
My other two classes are Intro. a Cultura Ecuatoriana- a class for international students that seems super easy and a little dull... I´m thinking about dropping it- and Española Avazada. I like all of my professors so far, but the work (at least what I´ve seen on the syllabus) doesn´t seem to difficult. My other classes should be easy too: Volcanología (I get to study volcanoes!), Fútbol, Guitarra, y Andinismo (a class that is all about climbing mountains here! Literally, the study of climbing the Andes!).
I´m a little frustrated at the classes, but hopefully they will get harder. After all, it´s only the first day! And trying to communicate with my family makes up for it: mi español es limitada, and it´s not always easy to understand what they are saying. I zone out sometimes, and when they want to speak to me, they have to say things two or three times. But I´m learning!
There´s so much to tell, but I have to go. Time to meet Raquel and catch a bus for the hour long trip home. The next two days will be full of classes and I think we may go to la playa (the beach) this Saturday because... why not? We´re in Ecuador! It´s so hot that I have a sunburn! In January! Que loco!
As the Ecuadorians say (I´m not joking about this): ciao todos!