Buenos dias! My name is Allie Schauer and I’m on the Nature, Society, and Sustainability Maymester in Ecuador. Today I’m writing you from Cuenca, Ecuador before our field trip to Cajas National Park. Everyone experiences travel in their own way, but here are four of my own personal tips that may make your trip to Ecuador a little easier.
#1: Bring daily vitamins, allergy medicine, and tums.
When you’re travelling in a new place, you never know how your body is going to react. You’ll be trying new foods, maybe the cascarita fried pig skin shown below, and meeting plants and animals you may not usually hang out with, like the guinea pigs below. You don’t want to spend the rest of your day sneezing or with an upset stomach, so it’s best to be prepared.
#2: Plan out your souvenirs
This one is all about budgeting and planning ahead. In Ecuador, it’s easiest to pay for things with cash, which is all fine and well until you look in your wallet and there’s nothing left. There are ATMs and banks easily available, but to make sure you don’t run out of money unexpectedly in the middle of a field trip day, try to have a good idea of what you’re planning to buy. Think about who you want to get souvenirs for, what kind of thing you want to get that person, and how much you’re willing to spend ahead of time so you don’t go overboard.
#3: Remember that it’s okay to ask for help.
A more personal anecdote here. For the first week of my home stay here in Cuenca, I had problems connecting with the wifi. Instead of saying anything about it, I ran around town from internet café to internet café, getting more and more frustrated with the inconvenience of turning in each assignment. After a week of lugging my laptop around, I finally asked my host sister for help – she quickly fixed my problem and I haven’t had a problem with the wifi again. Had I asked for help earlier, I wouldn’t have spent days running around frustrated and desperate.
#4: Most importantly, have fun!
Even though it’s chock full of field trips and lectures, this Maymester builds in lots of free time for you to explore your surroundings. You’ll likely get a book of suggestions of things to do from CEDEI, the school UT is partnered with here in Cuenca, but you can also go to online travel blogs to find out what cool things your area has to offer. When in doubt, just walk around or take a different route home – you may find parks, markets, or even concerts that you didn’t know about. Make this experience your own and enjoy every minute!
This post was contributed by Allie Schauer, a 2018 Global Ambassador.
Don’t get left behind. Read more about Allie’s experience in Ecuador.