Having previously traveled to South America, Clarita Sullivan, a Junior majoring in Political Science, knew she had to return back to the continent as her study abroad destination. Clarita’s mother is from Peru, so growing up she had always felt a connection with South America. As a Spanish minor, Clarita was searching for an international experience that would help her with her fluency and complete an internship abroad. After stopping by the Advising and Resource Center in the IAGE office and meeting with a few Program Assistants, Clarita ultimately decided to embark for Quito, Ecuador through the MSID International Development Program this past Fall.
Clarita said she felt a little anxious at the start of her study abroad experience, as she was adapting to a new culture; however, after settling into her homestay and getting to know her host mother and family, she began to feel comfortable. The homestay also helped her consistently practice her Spanish and try authentic Ecuadorian foods.
"Being a neighboring country of Peru and I've been there many times, I thought Ecuardo would have been similar. But it surprised me how different it is especially the food, landscape, and people."
During her study abroad experience, Clarita explored the biodiversity of South America. From hiking through cloud forests up and down the coast, to trekking up volcanoes, and even staying in a bungalow in the Amazon Rain forest, Clarita saw a whole new side of nature that has remained relatively untouched.
While abroad, Clarita interned and researched for the department of the Secretary of Health. Her responsibilities included interacting with and evaluating various markets and neighbors of Ecuador to gauge economic health. The internship left Clarita with insights on what it is like to work in another country and a greater level of confidence in her Spanish speaking skills. As well as her academic workload while abroad, Clarita, who is pre-law, felt better prepared for graduate school because of the meaningful experiences she had both in the classroom and during her internship.
Upon her return back to America, Clarita reflected on her time in Ecuador and advises anyone considering studying abroad to go somewhere unexpected and to constantly look for new challenges.
"The chance to work in a different country is very beneficial because our world is becoming so global. It helped my Spanish a lot and it helped me understand cultural differences."