On Wednesday around 1AM we made it
out of customs and into Ecuador. I was very happy to be out of Berkeley and finally in country.
 We spent four nights together at this
spiritual retreat, two to a room. Each room had a bathroom, hot water available
from 7AM to 8AM and like almost every other bathroom in Ecuador, toilet paper
would be put in the bin next to the toilet instead of flushed down (for anyone
who has been to Mexico or any other country that grew faster than the
infrastructure, you can understand why this is mentioned). So at the spiritual
retreat, we mostly did in country training and cultural awareness in Ecuador.
While two to four hours of lecturing were exhausting, it was necessary. During
these four days, we also took a bus tour of Quito and the next day we were left
with a map, cell phone that only makes calls and texts, and a list of places to
visit across the city- we basically were thrown into Quito and told to figure
it out, which my group successfully did.

While here in Quito, we will be
taking four hours of Spanish class everyday and then doing some more group
oriented activities in the afternoon. Class today was slow because it was a lot
of mechanics but the group activities after class were a good way to reflect on
our host family and cultural experience thus far. We even did rose, bud, thorn,
which made me nostalgic because the first time I did rose, bud, thorn was in
advisory in high school and I continued to do it everyday with my best friend
on our train ride home.

On Sunday morning, all fifty of us
departed to our first host family. My immediate host family is made up of four
people: my mom, my dad, and two sisters. My host mom lives next door to her
sisters, who are also hosting students so all three of us hang out and take the
bus together. While it’s super nice to be close to my friends and have that
safety net, I’m nervous that I’m becoming less independent in my transition
into permanent homestays since I do have people to fall back on. For example,
on our way home today, I felt less aware on our hour long bus ride because I had
another fellow sitting next to me the whole way that could tell me when our
stop was coming up or help keep an eye on my stuff. I know I won’t always have
that privilege so I want to start adjusting to that now rather than later.

Speaking of
permanent homestays, we find out our home placement and apprenticeships
tomorrow, making our cohort go from 50 to 25. On top of that we find out our
regional group so 25 goes to 6. While I’m pumped to finally find out where I’ll
be and what I’ll be doing, there’s a very large possibility that the people I’m
closest to in my cohort will not be with me for much longer. Like I mentioned
earlier, a safety net is a privilege to have and I don’t know if I’m ready to
give up the friends I’ve made here. I know everything will be okay but after
spending these past weeks building supportive friendships, I’m not too keen to
do that again with other people. I think I’m most nervous of being apart from
the only person I knew going into GCY. We didn’t really know each other that well
going into GCY but the idea of knowing at least one person going into eight
months of unknown adventure was a huge advantage. On the same token, though, I
came here for self-discovery so I need to be ready to push myself out of my
comfort zone and into a growth mindset.

Attached below is a song that best encapsulates how I feel
right at this moment: