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27 de diciembre 2008
For an English major, it can be pretty frustrating not to be able to describe an experience in words.
On the 22nd of December at about 2:30 in the morning I arrived home safe and sound after a long day of flight travel. Our BCA group had different discussions about culture shock in Ecuador and the side effects of adjusting back to life in the U.S. We heard that there might be feelings of depression, disappointment, shock—that it might be harder to go back than it was to arrive in Ecuador.
Two friends and I were lucky enough to arrange ourselves in neighboring seats on the flight to Miami and as our plane landed we began to point out everything that was different. The houses look so uniform, everything is built so symmetrically. Where are the mountains? Look at the roads, they look perfect and look how big the cars are. And in the airport—the airport employees don’t speak Spanish.
Although surprising, I don’t feel as though I am in shock, it simply feels as though I have entered a different world. It has been wonderful to see my family in the U.S. again and to spend Christmas together in our house. But Ecuador seems ages and worlds away—I simply can’t mesh these two worlds together yet. Small things of U.S. life do continue to surprise me (It was so strange to flush toilet paper down the toilet instead of putting it in the trash can. I mean, where does it go???), and small things repeatedly remind me of experiences in Ecuador—it’s only through those small stories that I can find a way to relate some of my life in Ecuador to my family and friends here.
I still can’t seem to find the answer to the question to, “So how was your experience in Ecuador?” The only thing I can think to say is wonderful or amazing. But this experience was also challenging, difficult, eye-opening, unbelievable…and many other adjectives that I can’t seem to find. Maybe the shock manifests itself in this inability to describe Ecuador, or in my longing to speak Spanish again. I wish that I could draw some profound comparisons between the “third-world” country of Ecuador that I lived in for five months and the “first-world” United States that I inhabit now.
But maybe that’s part of the blessing and the challenge. I hope the uneasiness of comparison will stay with me and maybe someday I will be able to name why it is so hard to compare Ecuador to the U.S. and what that means. As for now I am enjoying the time with my family, looking forward to returning to Bethel to see friends and familiar faces, but also longing for the people and different parts of my experience in Ecuador.
All I can say to sum up this blog is thank you for reading and thank you to God and all the people that made this semester so unforgettable.
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