YFU Switzerland

Exchange is a rollercoaster of feelings

Hello everyone out there 🙂

In this post I would like to focus on what is going on in me. There is not much to tell about my week anyway. This week I only went to school Monday and Tuesday, but because the students have exams I didn’t need to go wednesday to friday. On wednesday I went to the house of Mia (a german exchange student) to eat there. She doesn’t live in Portoviejo, so she needs to take the bus every day. To me that was quite exciting because I had never taken a bus before in Ecuador. It was a nice afternoon and I was able to forget my homesickness for a while. It was also very interesting to see how other exchange students live. Mia has the exactly opposite of me. There is always someone around, because the place she lives in is a community of approx. 7 houses, where all the family lives. So she always has a lot of cousins, aunts, uncles around her.

On Thursday we had the meeting with our area rep to talk about what we had experienced the first month here in Ecuador. Before that I went to eat Pizza with Mia and Vincent (another exchange student from Germany, who lives in the same place as Mia) and as dessert we ate Frozen Yogurth (delicious 🙂 ). The meeting went fine, but more about that later.

So I still feel very homesick. I miss home, my family and friends a lot. I often feel lonely and I think without Whatsapp and Skype I wouldn’t even have stayed here more than 2 weeks. The people at home are the only ones I can talk to. Of course there are people here that for sure would want to help me, but I don’t know them very good. I have only been at my new college for 1,5 weeks, so I don’t have close friends there. And my hostfamily doesn’t have much time for me. I mean I totally understand them. They have a three year old daughter that needs a lot of attention, they work a lot and they study. Then there’s not very much time over for an exchange student that has problems to find its place in a foreign culture. Don’t get me wrong, they are very very nice and understandable and I like them a lot, but somehow I just don’t feel at home here. I also don’t want to steal their precious free time through moaning about my problems. It is quite depressing to read blogs of other exchange students here or texting them, because they are all having a great time. I often read “The first days/weeks were hard, but now I’m feeling great and I love this country”. And then there’s me that still feels the same like in the beginning. Of course there are good moments but in the end of the day my thoughts are always the same: “I want to be at home now”. I don’t know what I can do. Of course I try to find something positive in everything and get out, but it’s difficult here because first of all I don’t have a lot of energy and there actually is nothing to do. I really don’t understand why I am having such a rough time. I mean everyone else can do it too, why not me? But these thoughts don’t bring me anywhere. I’m sorry for writing such an unhappy post, but I want to tell the whole truth about my stay here. And the truth is, exchange isn’t full of roses, love, fun and activities. At least not an exchange in Ecuador. I’m sure it’s different in countires like the US or England. In general I like Ecuador a lot. It has an interesting culture and I enjoy learning something new every day. My problem is, that I am here on my own. But that is the purpose of an exchange, and I knew that from before, so I don’t understand myself. I think I just had totally different expectations that didn’t come true.

My Spanish is improving, but I still have a lot of difficulties with understanding the people here (they talk really fast) and finding the right words to answer. Through that I can’t really be myself, because I’m not able to put my thoughts into words. I feel like the people at school think I’m a quiet girl without an own opinion. But the opinions are all stored in my head, I just don’t get the time to look everything up in the dictionary to tell them in Spanish. Anyways I’m surprised how good I get along with my small vocabulary. I’m becoming a master in indicating if it’s appropriate to just smile and nod even though I didn’t understand anything, through listening to the voices of the people.

My sleep here is still very bad (another reason to miss home with the comfy bed). So the circles under my eyes are getting darker with every day. Luckily someone invented this thing called concealer. My sleeping problem doesn’t make it easier to feel happy here. But I have no idea what I could do against it.

At the area rep meeting, everyone was sounding very positive, except me. To be honest I kind of feel like a looser. I’m the only one that doesn’t manage the life here without my family. After the meeting I asked Santiago (the area rep Portoviejo) if I could talk to him alone. So there I told him, that I don’t feel happy at all and that I am very homesick. He then promised me that he would help me to search for something I could do in the afternoons. But as I know the ecuadorian people, I’m sure that won’t happen very soon. He told me that if nothing would change with my feelings, we could look for a new host family, where I would feel better. I start believing that that’s maybe the best option. But I trust Santiago that he know what he does, so I will wait some weeks.

After all the negativity 3 things I appreciated:

  • After school when I took a taxi home, the taxista started a conversation and I actually was able to answer without feeling totally insecure and scared because of the language
  • The girlfriend of my host uncle asked me if I wanted to go to the gym with her, what is very nice from her. Sadly I didn’t have time then.
  • That I could spend an afternoon with friends that talk the same language as me and I dind’t have to eat rice for lunch one time.