I love my tumblr. I really really do. Tumblr brightens my day in so many unimaginable ways, but there's no avoiding the fact that it's just not a real blog. I need a true, legitimate blog that chronicles my time in Ecuador in more than bite-sized snippets and I need it now, because I'm leaving in 2 months. I need a blog that my grandmother could read if she wanted to. So I'm launching a new blog via blogger. It's nowhere near as fun as tumblr but I feel like it's my duty.
So I'll start with some introductions.
My name is Madeline (Maddy) and I'm going to be spending the 2010-2011 school year as a Rotary Youth Exchange student in Ecuador. I've wanted to do this for pretty well my entire life (my mother was an exchange student in Germany when she was in high school and she first introduced me to the idea) and for lack of a less trite way to put it, I'm finally living my dream. On August 21st I will embark on the biggest adventure of my life.
It's insane how much life plans can change in a year. This time last year, if somebody told me I would be going to Ecuador, I would have laughed in their face. I never pictured myself going anywhere outside of Europe, and definitely not to exotic South America, but here I am. In my Rotary district we do not get to choose which country we exchange to, but I actually think that's for the better. I am now going to be going somewhere unexpected and will expand my horizons in untold ways. That's pretty powerful. I was originally supposed to be going to Thailand, but due to some political drama I've been relocated to the opposite side of the world. I won't get into that, but I will say that I am as happy to be going to Ecuador as anywhere in the entire world. After some research, I have gotten to know and have fallen in love with the nation.
I leave for Ecuador on August 21st. I'm going to be living in the city of Machala, in the far south coastal region of the country. It is surrounded by banana plantations and is by that token known as the "banana capital of the world." I am going to be living with two families for 5-6 months each. In early September I'm going to be attending a Spanish-learning orientation camp (my knowledge of Spanish is essentially zero), then in October I'm going on a trip to the coast, in February I'll be going to the Amazon rainforest (!), in April I'm going to the Galapagos Islands (!!!), and in June I'll be heading on a grand tour of the major cities of Ecuador. I am so beyond excited for these trips, it's not even funny. I'm hoping I'll maybe get a chance to visit Peru (I'm going to be about an hour from the Peruvian border) while I'm there as well. There are so many exciting opportunities and I'm not going to take a single one for granted.
I'm currently in the preparation stage, and my life is feeling like a bit of a mess right now, to be honest. I have a visa to apply for (this includes a trip into Toronto to visit the Ecuadorian consulate), suitcases and a backpack and countless other things to buy, a language to learn, bank accounts to get in order, insurance to figure out, goodbye parties to be planned, bags to be packed, goodbyes to be said, and planes to be boarded. All this in two months. I'll keep this updated over the next few weeks as I prepare for departure, but this blog won't be particularly interesting (except to other exchange students, I guess) until I actually land on Ecuadorian soil and start living la vida ecuatoriana.