By Amy Castellano, Spanish Major
As those who know me probably already know, I am not at Salem State this semester. I have been in Ecuador since January in a study abroad program, and I’m having the time of my life. So, I wanted to tell you a bit about my trip and about the wonders of study abroad.
Perhaps you have thought about going abroad, because you know that that’s the best way to learn a foreign language and have a great experience, but you haven’t taken the leap yet for a number of reasons. You´ve probably asked yourself the same questions I asked myself before I decided to go abroad. Will I graduate on time? Will I be able to pay for it? Can I really spend five months away from home? Well, the answer to all of those questions is yes. College is the best time for students to see the world because study abroad programs, as well as Salem State, offer both need- and academic-based scholarships. Study abroad programs also offer help and support before and throughout your semester or year abroad. As for graduating on time, of course you can! In order to maintain your student visa you must take at least 12 credit hours. So if that hasn´t convinced you, I´d like to share with you some of my experiences I have had here in Quito.
For the adventurous types, Ecuador is the perfect place with its wide range of lands and its diverse cultures. I have traveled by boat through the jungle, swam down the Tiputini River, and fallen asleep to the sound of howler monkeys right outside my window all in the Amazon rainforest region. I have swum with sea lions and met with 150 year-old giant turtles in the Galápagos Islands. I have climbed numerous active volcanoes and gorgeous waterfalls in the highlands and enjoyed beautiful scenery on the beaches of the coast. I have had the opportunity to talk with indigenous locals and try some traditional dishes, such as cuy (guinea pig!). When I am not on an adventure I am at home in Quito with my amazing host family or out enjoying the nightlife with friends in La Mariscal.
So maybe you are different and you would like a more subtle environment with historical museums or shopping. Fortunately for you, the world is huge and you can find a place for whatever your interest might be. My advice for anyone would be to go for at least a summer session abroad because in my opinion there is nothing better and more exciting than to learn about another culture firsthand. ¦