Even though I’ve been in school for over 15 years, the first day is still always scary. At the University of San Francisco, most of the Ecuadorians are from very rich families and all the international students studying here are also very rich. So it’s definitely a different feel from what I’m used to. To start, the campus looks like a resort: giant fish pond, water fall, palm trees, and girls in heels lounging near the water. The buildings all have names and are all connected to each other, so you have a 15% of finding your class on time. My first class was History of Latin American Republics which is about 80% Ecuadorian students. The professor seems very nice and helpful and she even got in an argument with one of the students concerning culture. I think I’ll stay in this one.
The second one was Introduction to Ecuadorian Culture which is all American students who barely speak Spanish. It’s a little frustrating but I realize that I will get out of it what I put into it. The third class was Macroeconomics. Now, I hated Microeconomics in English so you can only imagine how I feel about Macro in Spanish. I am the only gringa in the class and right away I noticed how anti-American the professor was. At one point, he directed his gaze at me and told the class how the United States “screwed Ecuador’s economy.” Although I agree with this statement, I felt incredibly uncomfortable being the only American. I wasn’t sure whether to apologize or act like I hadn’t understood. Later in the class, he split us into groups and asked what we would do if we were on a desert island. He was obviously looking for social organization, division of jobs, resource management, etc. But the girls in my group found it more useful to build a clock right away. When I suggested that shelter and food would be more important, one girl snapped at me that that was a stupid idea. Needless to say, I didn’t speak for the rest of class. It’s going to be an extremely difficult class to keep up with, but I’m ready for the challenge.
My fourth class was Quichua which I was really excited about. The class is about half Ecuadorian, half American. The professor seems nice enough except he drew 5 identical faces on the board to represent 5 different emotions. I’m going to have to use my dictionary a lot! The fifth class is probably going to be my favorite. The title is translated to Environmental Entrepreneurship, or Environmental Administration. There were only 5 of us in the class and the professor was young and really passionate about the subject. We discussed corporations, empresas, oil, “going green”, and he agreed to help me on my research project about oil and the Indigenous populations.
The sixth and final class is called Andinismo and it involves hiking, rock climbing, and bouldering. Every weekend throughout the semester there is a hike somewhere around Ecuador. I’m incredibly excited to be involved in this!