by Hannah Baynham
Saturday, August 20, 2016
I arrived in Quito on Tuesday 16th August, ready to meet my new family and see my new home. Tired and a bit groggy, I met the lovely Margarita (my host mama) and her daughter, Ana Karina at the airport at 10am our time. They bought me back to the lovely flat where I’ll be staying for the next four months, and made me feel very much at home!
Margarita has two daughters, Ana Karina, who is married with a gorgeous little boy, Rafa, and Macarena who is my age, both super kind and welcoming. The flat is really great, on the 14th floor and at the top of the hill, each window offers super beautiful views across the sprawling city. It is very cosy and I feel very much at home here.
My time in Quito has already been pretty busy, full of meeting new friends and getting to know the area and my new university.
On Wednesday, Margarita and one of her fellow host-mum friends took myself and another exchange student to show us our new route to the university. The campus is in a really nice part of town, in Cumbaya, and really very different from what I’m used to at KCL. So much green space and really characterful buildings.
My first day at the university was on Thursday. I went along with my new friend, Natashia, both of us nervous and excited to meet lots of new people. On arrival we saw that there were LOADS of exchange students, in the same position as we were, all new to Quito, excited and nervous to start at the university. That morning we had a lot of introductory talks, all about being safe in Quito, what to do in case of earthquake, about the university, etc etc. It was very long but all very informative. The talks were followed by a big lunch for all exchange students, and was a good chance to get chatting to people and also the “Ecuabuddies” – a buddy system inside the university linking foreign students to Ecuadorians. The Ecuabuddies also gave us a tour of the campus, which was useful although I’m still very certain I’ll be getting lost regardless when I start classes on Tuesday!
This was great as they took us all around the city, allowing us to see Quito by night, especially from the amazing view point ‘La Virgen de Quito’ on top of El Panecillo. Of course it was also a great opportunity to meet and chat to other exchange students, and I was super happy to meet two fellow Brits, uni of Birmingham students. The tour finished at a traditional Ecuadorian restaurant, selling impressively gigantic empanadas filled with cow intestines. Living the vegetarian dream!!
Yesterday, Friday, was a really great day. Me and two of the Brits I met the night before, Andy and Grace, ventured into Central Quito to take part in a four hour walking tour covering pretty much every inch of Old Town. Despite it being veeerrry long, it was super interesting, and we learnt loads about the history of Quito as well as Quito at present. On finishing that, we went for a typical Ecuadorian ‘almuerzo’ – $2.50 for soup, juice and a main, and we also went to a couple of museums. A pretty great day, although extremely tiring!!
Yesterday evening we treated ourselves to our first night out in Quito. Gringolandia, or La Mariscal seems to be the place to be in Quito for a night out, and it was absolutely packed full of people. There was live music, so lots of dancing in the Plaza Foch, practising our non-existent salsa skills, and of course lots of drinking and enjoying the atmosphere. A great night although definitely am paying for it today!!