French fries will never be the same
What happens when you return from abroad
Coming back to the University was a serious culture shock for me. I was unprepared for the monster we call SIS. And I was certainly unprepared to see girls jump and scream out of excitement about having the same nail polish color.
I spent a portion of my summer in Ecuador volunteering in South Quito, which is not a highly desired destination because of poverty and lack of safety. Our work orientation consisted of safety measures and procedures — don’t carry anything of value, any bags you carry must be in front of you, don’t get in certain cabs, etc.
The street I was living on smelled like urine every minute of every day. I walked outside my house once and nearly got attacked by a rabid dog. Our house was directly across the street from a brothel. I heard stories from other volunteers about their experiences getting mugged, people getting kidnapped and, best of all, my friend slamming the door on his host brother’s face because he thought he was trying to break in.
Most of the activities we did during our free time would be considered somewhat dangerous. We climbed the highest active volcano, repelled down a waterfall and bungee jumped. In the United States, many waivers would need to be signed before a person could partake in such activities. We did them without receiving safety instructions.
I have traveled abroad for various programs since I was 10 years old but I have never been as comfortable as I was in Ecuador, living on Urine Street across from a brothel. I can’t put my finger on it, but something — or maybe everything — about that country made me fall in love with it.
When I got home, I found myself missing the man in the brothel who cat called at us; the rabid dogs, even though they caused one of my friends to get six weeks of rabies shots; and especially the papas fritas, which are basically french fries on crack.
Never have I had a potato so delicious. Now that I’m thinking about it, potatoes may be the reason I love Ecuador so much.
I had one week between returning from Ecuador and going back to the University. While I was home, I ate a traditional Ecuadorian potato pancake every single day for lunch.
I exhibited all of the other usual signs of travel withdrawal. I complained about any meal that cost more than $2.50. I realized the bartender was right and I actually can’t drink here until I’m 21. I wore my newly purchased alpaca sweaters in the middle of the summer and I became painfully aware of how boring home can be.
Until my next adventure, don’t be surprised if you find me walking around Grounds wearing inappropriate clothing for the current weather or eating potatoes in some form or another. I have yet to readjust to America and I’m not sure if I want to or will any time soon. For now, just bear with me randomly inserting Spanish words into my speech.
Avery’s column runs biweekly Wednesdays. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.