Published: May 31st 2012May 29th 2012
Today was my first day of class at the Universidad San Francisco. The university is about 45 minutes away from where I’m living when you use public transportation. It is the only Catholic university in the area. The college options in Ecuador are 1. “Community college” which is about $600 a year. 2. The public university which is about $4000 or $6000 a year. 3. The private, Catholic university which is $8000 a year.
I’m still working on learning the bus system for getting to and from the university. The second bus that I take, the green bus, does not have a person that you pay when you get on. Instead, at random intervals, a man walks up and down to collect everyone’s money. To me, this makes no sense because how do you keep track of who paid? The same people who sell things on the streets also come on the buses. They’ll jump on at a stop, walk up and down trying to sell you something, and then jump back off even before the bus driver stops the bus. The back of
the seats have a picture of Jesus on them with the words “Confiemos en Jesus” meaning “we trust in Jesus” above his head. Below printed is “no fume” meaning no smoking.
The University is smaller than Boston College with only 4,000 students. My group met outside of the main entrance. It was very nice to be reconnected with the other American students. For the first time since my arrival I was able to speak English with those around me. It seems like all of the students are having very similar experiences to mine with traveling, the language, their host families, etc. However, a bunch of them are having some altitude sickness which I am very fortunate not to have had. The only difference that I noticed was for the first 24 hours my feet were a little swollen. Now, they are back to normal. There are 12 other students, 4 of which are also nursing majors. The rest are pre-med and psychology.
The class that I’m taking is called “Global Health Perspectives.” We will explore the different healthcare systems internationally, debate the issues, and discuss directions
to head towards in the future. This will be mixed with trips to clinics and hospitals as well as cultural field trips. We will also have different medical professionals come in and speak with us.
We didn’t talk much about the class content today. Instead, Amanda reviewed information about Ecuador to us. Amanda is an Ecuadorian woman who acts almost like our guide while we are here. She is very funny and filled with lots of entertaining stories. First, she explained the geography of Ecuador. There are 4 different regions with Quito being in the mountains. There are two seasons: summer and winter. During the day, it is sunny in the morning, cloudy/raining in the afternoon, and cold at night.
Amanda also explained some of the customs. To the people, there is no such thing as personal space. They like to touch, hug, etc. You never shake hands when you meet a new person. Instead, it is always a kiss on the cheek. Ecuadorians also have strange nicknames for people. They include “fatty” for a thin person, “blacky” for a tan person, and “dwarf” for a
short person. They are considered terms of endearment.
Finally, she talked a little bit about the healthcare system and politics in Ecuador. Ecuador has had 7 presidents in the past 10 years. Whenever the people don’t like someone, they kick him out. The current president seems to be doing well and they think that he will be in power for a long time. He has been making many changes, especially with healthcare and education. He is trying to bridge the gap between classes and raise the lower class. Some of the host families are in favor of this while mine is strictly against it. The financial burden falls on the middle and upper classes.
After class, I took a bus to the station Rio Coca. It is the midpoint for my commute. My host father picked me up there and took me to the mall to walk around and see all of the stores. We had some extra time between picking me up and picking up his wife from work for lunch.
The lunches seem to get bigger and
bigger each day. Everyone has off about two hours from work/school to come home, eat, and relax. You can see all of the kids leaving school in their uniforms. Kids in both public and private school are required to wear uniforms.
There are more photos below