One of the things I was most scared about for my study abroad trip was making friends. It sounds so first-grade sometimes, but I really didn’t know how I was going to do it. Especially in another language. However, I have managed to prove myself completely wrong. I have made friends in almost everything that I have done here. In class, playing sports, on the bus, at home, going out, traveling, you name it. It’s been the greatest part of living here. My Ecuadorian friends mean the world to me now. They have taught me way more than I’d ever learn inside a classroom and have begun to inhabit a very special place in my heart.
One friend I’ve made here has taught me something huge about myself that I never knew before. I learned that I actually find so much joy in teaching others. I’ve always known I could be a teacher if I ever wanted to because my entire family consists of teachers, but I never thought I’d enjoy it. However, I’ve recently been shown otherwise. It is obvious that I am in Ecuador right now to learn Spanish; but, a lot of students my age also enjoy the fact that I can help them learn English. At the beginning of the semester, I became part of a diversity club on campus that partners up a native Spanish-speaker with a native English-speaker to have conversations every week. These talks are half in Spanish and half in English so that each partner can have an opportunity to practice their second language and learn from a fluent speaker of that language. It’s a great resource for practice. On top of this opportunity, my closest Ecuadorian friend, Santiago, and I have this friendship where we can ask each other anything and are both more than willing to help the other with whatever they need. For example, whenever I don’t understand a detail of why Ecuadorians use one word over another, I just ask him and he sits down to explain it to me. So, a few days ago, Santiago and I had our first conversation in English. He is a little bit shy, and he hasn’t ever asked me to talk in English with him before because he is still in the beginning stages of learning the language. But that day, we hung out for over an hour speaking in my language for once, and I found such joy in my heart in helping him figure out words he couldn’t understand or expressions he didn’t know; seeing his face light up when something finally clicked in his head was irreplaceable. Teaching him my own language was actually incredible, and I absolutely loved doing it. One of many things that I can add to my list of Things-That-I-Have-Learned-About-Myself-Abroad is my love for teaching those who genuinely want to learn. If it wasn’t for some of my Ecuadorian friendships, I never would have known about this part of me. How cool is that??