I was recently given the opportunity to embark on a 12-day trip to South America to do some communication research in Quito, Ecuador. At the very least, I thought, I’ll get class credit–for a mandatory 4th year course I had absolutely no desire to do in a classroom. And I have to say: it turned out to be more than worth it.

I had no preconceived notions of what Ecuador would be like, and to be honest, I didn’t have the slightest idea. South America was of course on my list of places to travel, but only in the sense that everywhere in the world is on my list of places to travel. Of course, I figured it would be beautiful. Turns out, that was a bit of an understatement.


High up in the Andes, Quito is a sprawling, dense city of 2.6 Million. The people are friendly, the culture is vibrant; it’s everything I could have asked for on my first trip to the continent. We spent a lot of time on the Universidad San Francisco de Quito campus (which is probably the most beautiful campus in the world); made day trips out to Otavalo and Baños; and ate so much Ecuadorian food that I thought I was going to explode.

I spent the trip attached by the hips to Morgan and Brittany, the other members of my research team. I don’t think I’ve worked in a team so efficient and lovely as this one–we all love and respect each other, we all have different strengths, and at the end of the day, “well-oiled machine” doesn’t even begin to explain our teamwork.

(Actually, the end of the day usually meant a whole pot of popcorn in our hotel room, thanks to Britt’s addiction.)

There’s a lot of things I could talk about (the fruit, the coffee, the markets…) but I’m not sure how important that is. I’m not sure that travel recommendations are really my thing; I think that EVERYONE should see EVERYTHING. But I guess I do have a few words of advice, something that I learned. See, I really did accept this trip because I thought it was the best way of getting out of classtime. I didn’t think I was that interested in our research, and I didn’t know my teammates that well, and Ecuador wasn’t exactly at the top of my list. But what an experience I got to have–even if it meant missing the entirety of the WHL finals.

So here it is: Sometimes you get opportunities to see things that you never imagined you would; things maybe you’ve only vaguely heard of, or you didn’t even know existed. It is my advice to you that you take ahold of those opportunities at every chance you get, no matter the reason or cost, and don’t look back.

(Or maybe don’t look down.)

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