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Mitchell's Ecuador Exchange

This year (2011-2012) I am spending my junior year abroad in Santo Domingo, Ecuador. Over the course of the year I will live with 2-3 families, but attend the same school year round.

Diary Entries

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Today I'm leaving for Manabi (a beach type thing) with all the Ecuadorian Exchangers. The spanish camp was only half at 65 people, theres a little more than 120 in Ecuador. I get back on Wednesday or Thursday, and will have a lot to say about it I'm sure.

But before I leave I fgured I should go ahead and write about my two other mini trips before Manabi wipes them from my head.

First about a week ago my host councelor and his family took me up to a little town call Flor del Valle. Flower of the Valley. It was very acurately named, it was very beautiful and full of flowers. Next they took me down to the Rio Blanco, white river, which was really cool. We went swimming, ate a big lunch, and stopped by a little waterfall. Really great day.

The other one was Quito. It wasn't as fun because I was up there for less than 24 hours, pretty much the sole reason being i needed to take the PSAT. My host councelor drove me up to Quitoand we stayed in his sisters house, we did look around Quito a little. We were in the colonial area, (the part built while the spanish were sill there) and it was really cool. Pretty much every third building was a giant cathedral though. It's amazing that all of them turned put so differently.

Monday, 03 October 2011

Yesterday was a really great day. When i woke up we didnt go to church first like we normally do. First we stopped by the cemetary. I guess its because its a month before the day of the dead, because there were plenty of people there. We went and prayed at Anita's mom's grave, and at the grave of Manuel's daughter. It was really sweet, then after church we went to the cousins house and one set of uncle and aunt that lives there took me and Braulio to the Rio Verde, (green river) it was pretty amazing. The whole view was great, and it was pretty big. Really awsome day.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Its been a few weeks since i posted. I didnt have internet for a week, then was gone for a week, and internet was out for awhile when i got back.

The Rotary Youth Exchange (RYE) program in Ecuador requires that all exchange students attend a spanish language camp where they teach just the basics. Its a good idea in theory. There might be some people who don't really know any spanish, but this was the level of spanish we got in 7th grade in an intriductory class. It may have helped some people but I learned zip. That doesnt mean it wasnt completely amazing. We stayed at an all inclusive, very fancy resort on the beach, and got to meet about half of the other exchange students in Ecuador. Its amazing that a group of people who have never talked can be such close friends so fast, but it makes sence too. It takes a certain type of person to be able to this kind of exchange. When you stick a bunch of similar people together who are all in the same boat, and havent been able to speak english for more than a month, you get close. I'm already planning on spending a weekend in Quito with my two best friends from there.

Honestly, I wouldnt have thought it, but Germans are like the coolest people on the face of the planet. They were all great, (and fluent in about every language there is). I can't wait for the next trip, when i not only get to hang out with them all again, but i get to meet the other 70 exchange students here. Sometime in October we're going to spend six days driving around to a bunch of beaches which should be fun.

It was such a nice place. We could eat whatever, whenever, and there was a lot. In ecuador they eat way more than we are used to in the USA, so its not like i was over eating, it was just nice to have some pasta, with some tomato sauce, or a hamburger or hotdog, instead of what we have at home. (chicken and rice, pig and rice, beef and rice, cow intestines and rice, etc.) I didnt have rice once while I was there, I really dont like rice.

Only complaint I had was all the rules that got in the way of doing stuff, like you have to be in class until four, you cant go swimming in the beach after four, pool closes at six, and the one that all the Germans were bummed about was the no alchol for minors rule. Honestly every single one was upset at not being able to drink, not just at the beach but in all of Ecuador. Its kinda funny. All though one Canadian girl got some older guys to buy her alchol and got so drunk she threw up all over her room, and she got the big if you break any rule ever again your getting sent home speech. She looked just like Snookie (so I'm told), so we all called her that all week, which she didnt particularly like, but she let us all call her Snookie after the whole drinking thing, which was probably the funniest part.

On a different note...
because I'm a junior this year I have to take the PSAT this October. I had already talked with my school about it, (they have to be the ones to sign me up), and thought I was good. But today I checked in to see if I was signed up yet (the people here have this thing with deadlines) and they had no idea what I was talking about. Maybe it was a different secretary, but she seemed to think I had asked for a transcript at the end of the year, (which I had) and knew nothing about the PSAT. So tomorow I'm gunna try and track down whats going on. I should be signed up, but if I'm not I will make them do it tomorow. I'm not exactly sure when the deadine is and i really really dont want to miss it. I hat to even mention it knowing my mom will read this and will flip out a little bit that I might not be signed up.

Will post again soonish, I missed like three weeks and a lot did happen, have a lot to talk about.

Monday, 05 September 2011

Today was by far my best day yet. Went to school, and its amazing how much my spanish got better over the weekend. Went home, and then went out to Zona Karting (the family buisness is go-karting), which is where all the other cousins and aunts and uncles live. When we're all there, which is most of the time we are, we cant all fit in the house, or even the yard. My whole family has been very excepting of me and very nice, but today I really felt like I was part of the family. It was a completely amazing feeling. Spent the day playing Monopoly, helping Javier teach Anita to skate, helping Anderon with his piano, and a lot of the time with the babies, (so many). We also moved a lot of furniture up the gianormous hill that seperates the Karting buildings from the other houses. I thought moving couches up and down the stairs in my US house was hard, but these were those narrow spiral staircases, and three chairs, two sofas. They kept telling isquirda, and durecha, (left and right) which for the life of me I can't remember which is which. So much to say but I can tell dinner is ready

Sunday, 04 September 2011

I felt a little bit sick after most of my meals here. They have almost all been really amazing, but Rotary told us that at some point we would be getting sick from the food. I was feeling better and better everytime I ate here, but it was just too good to be true. This morning around 4 I woke up and started to throw up. There was a lot but it was quick and i figured that it was just a body getting used to Ecuador thing. So I skipped breakfeast and went to church with the family. I wasnt in there for more than 10 minutes before I threw up a lot again. So its been a bit of a day.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

I have been getting used to my new names lately. Almost no one down here can say Mitchell. The accent and name do not mix. So everyone at my school either fails at calling me Mitchell, or they call me Chicho. (pronounced chee choe) Almost all of my family calls me David, my middle name. So at school im chicho, with my extended family im david and at home im mitchell.
I really need to work on Chicho, because i keep saying chucha, which is about the equivilant of dropping the f-bomb in english and they all think that its really funny, which it is.

Met the other echange student in my class today, she barely knows any spanish, much less than me, which is a huge relief. Its also nice that she is fluent in english, because i think for a bit thats the only thing thats gunna save her, because i doubt that the students know any German.

The governor of Sanot Domingo came to todays Rotary meeting, (my first) and he was so boring. He obviosly had been smoking his whole life, and he was very monotone. Other than that it was very nice.

Lots to say but its late and I had a long day, so i'll post tomorow

Saturday, 27 August 2011

The first completely suprising thing about Ecuador was something I found out just the second I got through customs at the airport. I guess I forgot to mention it because by the time I posted my first blog I was used to it.

When people great eachother you press your cheek against theres and kiss the air next to them. Same for when your leaving. Except when its 2 guys or 2 girls. Then theres this handshake thing. you like shake/high five, then fist bump. But it isnt a thing you just do with friends. This is something you do with Everyone. even people you use the formal you with. When I first stepped off the plane my new mom greated me, and my new dad tried to, and I had absolutley no idea what they were doing. I knew it was just a cultural way of shaking hands, but i didnt know what to do, but i do both about a million times everyday now it doesnt seem weird. Its not even been a week, and I would think it was weird if someone didn't do the cheek kiss thingy.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

So what I said about school last time seems to be wrong. This week was different than it normaly is. I normaly have 6 classes and whatnot and class on fridays. Oh well.

Yesterday was really fun though. We just hung out outside from 7 to 1. We went out to lunch and met up with the president of the Rotary club, who said the other exchange student who will be in this town is from Germany and arived yesterday. She will be in my class at school.

After that I went and hung out with a large group of friends for a while. Everythings been great and amazing I cant thank Rotary enough.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Location: Santo Domingo, Ecuador

So much to say... this is just about the first time I have been able to use the internet since Friday. Friday seems like forever ago, though it was just 6 days. I guess I'll start where I left off. Saturday was ok, sort of. After my two or three hour flight I landed in Miami and had a 6 hour layover. Then my flight was delayed, then... my flight was delayed a little more... and then it was delayed a little more. After 2 and a half extra hours it was finally... delayed a little more. Another half hour later we got on and were about to take off, when they told us that there was something wrong with the plane and it would be a few minutes before we could take off. A few minutes was another half hour. So on the day that I woke up at 3 to start a trip, I didnt get to Santo Domingo until 1 in the morning.

That morning I woke up at 8 (this is sunday), and went to high school where a bunch of classes danced for us. I'm still not really sure what it was for. I saw where I would be going to school and it is a very nice little school. They showed me all around the town, which is actually quite large. My family owns a Go-Kart family buisness, and my aunts, cousins and other family live right next door. I ate a traditional meal soup thingy for lunch which was very good. It was pretty much fish and onion in a tomato type sause. Then we paid. Let me take a second to discuss the money.

There are almost no one dollar bills, you pretty much only use the sacajawea coin which there are a million of everwhere. after that all the bills are the same. There is a different half dollar coin, that is made in Ecuador, same for the quarter and the dime, although they still use the dime a lot. There is only the nickle for 5 cents and I havent once seen a penny. I think they worked out taxes so they dont ever really have to worry about change that doesnt end in 5 or 0. Its kinda nice.

Now fast forward to Monday. I wore my new uniform to school, and sat through Economy, and started sitting through Chemistry about the time everyone noticed that i was there. The teacher wanted me to give a presentation about myself to the class, but i dont think i could have done it. I wasnt prepared and my spanish isnt all that great. Luckily, I had no idea what anyone was saying at all, so after i sat there confused for awhile she started teaching. Chemisty has been really hard for me. I am coming into school sometime in their second semester, I have never had a chemistry class before, and its in spanish. All of which sums up to me having no idea whats going on. I just right what i see on the board, which appears to be random numbers and letters. Ever now and then I see H2O, which is one of the few things I do know and that makes me happy. Next I have math. Its somewhere in the Algebra 1 stage, so extremely easy, spanish or not, because i had algebra1 in 7th grade.

All these classes are 50 minutes starting a 7. Now that these three are over it is 9:30. From 9:30 until 1:00 when we are dismissed we can do whatever we want. Hang out outside, or go play some sport or other...
(inturupted in my typing here by a phone call. I had no idea what was he was saying, and i deffintily wasnt who he was asking for, so i hung up).
... thing. Its completely your time. And on friday there arent any classes, just hangout time. Its different.

Pretty much everyone asks you 3 questions
1. Como te llamas? (whats your name)
2. Cuantos anos tienes? (how old are you)
3. Que deporte practicas? (What sport do you play)
When they ask you number three, they mean that everyone in Ecuador plays soccer, volleyball and basketball, and which one is your favorite to play. I just tell them I prefer football (american football) to avoid them trying to figure out what i mean when i say i'm not really good at any of them and I would rather just watch and not play which was my responce the first time. This completely confused my new friend and then he tried to get to the bottom of the problem with the American culture that someone could dislike sports. It was funny and sort of entertaining the first time, but I'm not sure I want to explain it to everyone in the school.

Driving here scares the crap out of me. Thats all there is to say about that. You have to be here to imagine it, its chaos and no one drives less than 60 km per hour anywhere, and ignore stoplights and cut eachother off. It reminds me a bit of Africa, but its pretty different. Its hard to explain, but its also strange to do this from the back of a pickup truck, a place everyone rides in a lot.

All in all I have had an AMAZING first 5 days, and if the rest are anything like this, this year is going to be the best ever.
And i havent even mentioned the food yet. ;)

Friday, 19 August 2011

All of a sudden out of nowhere the whole pre-leaving process got frantically busy. I went to school yesterday for 5th and 6th hours, (choir and musical theater), and was planning to do it again today, but then today there was so much to do. We realized we had to go buy more things, socks, an ipod charger, etc. Then found out the ipod charger box we bought was empty.

We decided to move my phone number into an old phone so that I could use it in the Miami airport in case of emergency. It will work there and after that we will transfer the number to a different phone so that my little sister can have a phone. When we went the first time they were still closed. When we went back out later it was a bit of a wait before we were helped.

On top of all this, the car that we were driving to St. Louis in decided to stop driving. We had to take it to the mechanic. They wanted us to pick it up, and drop it off in a couple weeks. So we drove back and picked it up, we took it back and then drove to a car rental. They told us a car would be available in a few hours and to come back then.

It has been a long day, and I know my mom is having a hard time dealing with stressful situations the day after she took my brother to college, and the day before I leave the country. We are driving down to St. Louis tonight because we will have to get up at 3-ish to get to the airport around 4.

I am getting even more excited than I have been. I really just can't wait.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Location: USA

Today my 18 year old brother left for college, so it will be the last time I see him until I get back. I'm not too torn up though, honestly the two siblings that are still here I'm finding really annoying. Still updating everyday. And as someone pointed out to me I am just getting in the habit of updating everyday, not the habbit. Maybe my spanish will be better than my english skills. It wouldn't suprise me if they end up being better at the end of the year.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Same as yesterday. Nothing new to say just trying to get in the habbit of posting daily.

Meeting a friend to do something later today, getting together with another friend tomorow, "school" on thursday. Filling up my schedule with all my favorite people.

Not sure how thursday will work. Technically I' not enrolled at my school anymore, and have no classes. I'm going in before school to sa hi to everyone, then i might sit in on a choir class or two. I was known last year for hanging out in choir classes I wasnt in anyway. We have the coolest choir director in the world, and he doesn't mind me being there. Deffinitly having lunch with a few friends on thursday and then I'm not sure what I'll do in the afternoon. I might just leave, but I'll probably want to keep hanging out with all my friends. Guess we'll see when it happens.

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