My last full week in Quito

I’m writing on a much more positive note this week — Yay. My week at the surgery unit in the military hospital was amazing. This was the second time in the last few years that I’ve been able to scrub in on surgeries (now in two different continents), and I loved everything (ok like 99%).


This time, I got to see a little bit of everything (which was nice considering I had a 40 minute commute and had to be there by 7 am). I got to see pre-op patients, check up on post-op patients, participate in rounds with the other medical students, scrub in on surgeries (one gallbladder removal, one hernia repair), sit in on consultations, be a part of diagnostic meetings, and sat in on a gastro-intestinal lecture. Can my life get any cooler?


Unfortunately, I also had to sit in on family members receiving bad news about their loved ones. Which was incredibly difficult, and it made me glad it wasn’t something I had to personally be doing. It was especially difficult because Ecuadorians tend to have a strange way of reacting (in my opinion) to someone showing weakness or discomfort. I’ve never seen someone here acknowledge when a person starts to cry, instead they just turn the other way. My assumption is that this is to allow the person to try and “save some face” or recompose themselves to not appear emotional, which likely stems from the incredibly machismo culture they’re brought up in. Even the children at the preschool were ignored when they cried. Like they didn’t want them to be embarrassed for letting some emotion slip out. After saying goodbye to the great people at the surgical unit, me and the girls headed 9 hours south to Cuenca. A town worth the distance for its architecture alone. The fact that it was a solid 75 degrees and sunny the majority of the time was also an added bonus.

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And some more:

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Here we explored churches, plazas. museums, flower markets, artisan markets, a zoo, and ate some of the best food I’ve had while in Ecuador. The zoo was fantastic. There were baby lion cubs just feet away from a fence (yes, that’s literally all that separated us from them–and their mom) AND monkeys swinging freely from the trees as you walked around. I’m talking no cages of any sort. They sat on branches inches away from your face, I could have touched one if I didn’t forgo on the $900 rabies vaccine. Here’s a picture, I named him Frank:


Okay, I told you I’d get to the food. So, the first day we got there we had breakfast at a German bakery. For $3 you got scrambled eggs, tea or coffee, and unlimited helpings to a buffet of freshly baked German bread. Poppy seed, rye, cinnamon, fruit chunks, you name it. Plus like a million different types of spreads. Yes, we stayed there for like two hours.

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On top of that we had delicious coconut juice, pesto bagel sandwiches, and Indian food that easily put me in a food coma. (Just a reminder I ACTUALLY haven’t cooked for myself in almost 3 months. Just let that sink in) Something that I’ve noticed a lot here is the obsession with Westernized culture (not surprising, considering it seems to be pushed on everyone). One thing that people seem to love here is imported US clothes and other goods. However, a shirt that would be like $15 in the US is easily $40 here, so most people can’t afford it. Unless of course you get a knock-off version of a brand that is popular with 14-year-olds int the States:

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On Sunday we decided to travel 45 minutes to a nature reserve called Cajas. Little did we know that just 45 minutes outside of beautiful Cuenca there was a raining, freezing, mess. And of course we didn’t dress accordingly. So instead of getting to hike a couple of the 200 lakes and over 75 trails, we sat in a restaurant by a warm fire, enjoying hot potato soup, and viewing the scenery while being sheltered from the cold. Not complaining over here, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Except maybe for it to be sunny.


By the way, that fried cheesy goodness behind the soup is an epenada. I have at least 3 a week.

And here is a picture from on top of a hill, over looking part of Cuenca (Ecuador’s 3rd largest city):

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Other than having a great week, and weekend, my knee still kind of sucks. I bought a brace to keep it sturdy during my adventures, but I’m in constant need of ibuprofen and my mobility is a lot more limited then I would like. After being checked out by the doctor I’m shadowing this week, and by my medical director, both told me they would highly encourage an MRI as soon as possible. They talked about lateral ligament damage, and possibly a fracture from the patella hitting the other bones when it dislocated. I don’t really like the sound of that (obviously), but I’m very thankful I’ve been able to walk and my injury hasn’t ruined my trip, or cut it short.

Here is a picture of the swelling the morning after the dislocation/injury (thankfully no bruising and the swelling has gone down. It only hurts to straighten out or bend, and to the touch in some parts):

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Even though it’s not ideal that I have to use them, it’s pretty cool I’m surrounded by doctors that can give me consultations and checkups without appointments or being charged. I love being surrounded by medicine here: the girls I live with study it, we constantly talk about our clinical experiences, the Spanish I learn is mostly medical Spanish at the moment, and then I work in medical facilities at least 4-5 hours a day during the week. I’m in heaven (again, minus the knee)!

Today was my first day at a hospital for Familiar medicine. It was quite different than what I’ve been used to shadowing: which is private hospitals for people who can afford to pay a ton of money for excellent care. The hospital I went to today was for those getting help from social security, in a hospital that hadn’t had much attention itself in what looked to be decades. The consultation room I worked in had a small window, no working lights, a makeshift desk, and an examination bench/bed that looked like it belonged in MASH. But I’m so thankful I got to see this side, considering this is how the majority of people here receive health care (and those are the ones that even have access).

After shadowing the doctor who was checking in on patients with chronic illnesses such as diabetes and epilepsy, me and the other med students moved on to the Emergency Room. The ER was a large, square, cement room, with about 25 beds placed maybe two feet apart from each other, most with thin curtains between for “privacy.” No one had monitors for their vitals, most didn’t even get a pillow. And the weirdest thing? They had a hose-down station for pediatric patients. I kid you not, there was a room with a large basin, and if you brought your child into the ER, you were expected to put them in it, and hose them down. When I asked the doctor why this was, he said kids are often the most dirty of patients, carrying harmful germs, and they usually have some sort of bodily fluid on their clothing/hands. Especially when sick. Since the beds are so close to each other, they want to lower the risk of passing illnesses/bacteria on to weak, elderly, or pregnant patients…Interesting huh?

Speaking of those little germ-balls, everyone in the clinic who asks me what kind of specialty I want to go into, already assumes it’s pediatrics or maternity. In fact, many people have just answered their own question for themselves, before I got a chance to respond. In their defense, that’s what most young med/nursing students who are women want to do here. But I think it’s because it’s kind of already decided for them, in a societal-pressure type of way.

Sexism is incredibly obvious here, from little things that most people have learned to overlook, all the way to basic human rights issues. I have had very few public meals without a strange man commenting on how much I eat — obviously they have never witnessed what Thanksgiving looks like. My lunch portion has no comparison to the amount of food I wish I could be eating in two days.

Unfortunately, thanksgiving will be just another day for me. We’re not allowed to use the kitchen at my host-house, so we can’t make anything ourselves. And I looked into the big chain hotels around like the Marriott and the Hilton, but nothing is advertising some sort of celebratory meal. Looks like I’ll have to celebrate over chicken and rice, and count all the things I’m thankful for from my room here in Quito. There’s a lot, so it will probably take a while :) I hope everyone has a fantastic holiday, please know that I’m thinking of you and am thankful you’re all in my life.

Buenos Noches.


Week 9: Abby Goes to Peru!

Hello all!

I don’t have much to share about this week. It was a bit of an emotional week for me and I would like to keep most of it in my private journal for myself. I will say though, I was feeling quite homesick. This is the second time I’ve been homesick during my time here in Peru. Of course, I’ve missed my family and friends, but it has only been homesickness once. I am grateful that I have been able to be so strong and that I have held myself together so well emotionally. I have been away for almost twice as long as my record time being away from my family (five weeks), so I am impressed.

I also spent a lot of time this week doing a lot of personal reflection. About who I have become, who I am, and who I am becoming. I have been thinking about my goals that I set before coming here and when I realized that I’m not quite doing as well with them as I had planned I naturally was a bit hard on myself for it. I am always striving to better myself and I get disappointed in myself easily when I don’t pursue this goal as actively as I think I should.

Another thing that has been bothering me is what I want my future to be. I think about this periodically and sometimes, like this week, I get kind of anxious about it. I am a girl with a plan, and when I don’t have a plan, I feel slightly lost. The issue is that I have a lot of passions and I want to pursue all of them, but there isn’t really a way to do this, at least not at any one time in my life. One thing that calms me when I get anxious about my future is that I have developed a way of thinking in that my life is a book. I have many chapters, and while I may not be able to pursue everything in one chapter, I may be able to dedicate certain chapters to certain areas in which I am passionate about. The biggest thing that always gets me is music. Music is my main passion in life. I can easily spend hours at the piano, playing and singing, and it will seem like I just sat down. If it is my main passion in life, shouldn´t I be pursuing it? I wish I thought of this sooner because maybe I would have studied music education, but it is too late to turn back now. So my solution for now is to add a minor to my degree. At least, that is the idea I am toying with. I will need to do some serious thinking about it.

With all of this personality confusion, I have been polling my friends to see what they imagine me doing. I told them to pick from all of the possible careers in the whole world. I don’t know why I didn’t think to get others’ opinions in the past when I’ve struggled with what to make of my future. It was really an interesting survey. I was given responses of both careers I’ve considered and also ones that had never crossed my mind. I got responses from psychiatrist or music teacher to youth group leader or flight attendant. I appreciated everyone’s input greatly. My favorite was suggested by one of my closest friends in Peru. And that was youth ministry. She reasoned that I would have the potential to use my love for children, music, Jesus, ministry, advice-giving, and administrative and organizational tasks. She was so right! It sounds great! I have always seen ministry in my future, but never like this, so I liked having my eyes opened to another possibility.

Anyways, there’s a little emotional check-in for you! I hope you’ve enjoyed the glimpse into my crazy brain. That’s all for now.

Hugs to everyone back home!


Weeks 7 & 8: Abby Goes to Peru!


So I’m still playing catch-up with my digital entries, but I am proud to say that I have been doing a pretty darn good job keeping a journal. I’ve never consistently kept a journal or anything of the sort (I think my record before Peru was 4 days), so it has definitely been a struggle, especially with both my journal and a blog, but I am very proud of how good I have been doing with my journal, considering my lack of experience. Anyways, I’m going to give you a couple updates here about what has been happening since my time in the mountains!

So between trips (the way I measure time here), not much happened. That’s been a common theme this whole term. While there are definitely activities to do in Lima, we never end up doing much other than hanging out with friends and going to school. School is honestly such a low part of my trip. Don’t get me wrong, I’m one to enjoy school, but the education system in Peru is definitely in need of reform. My friends and I joke that the “L” word (logic) isn’t used in this country nearly as much as we are used to. Whether that be the education system, transportation system, or many of the other things on our list of complaints, there just isn’t much logic. We have found ourselves confused time and time again as to why certain things are the way that they are. Usually this is because things are much more complicated than they should be. I really do love this country, though, and I am enjoying my time here so much. I wouldn’t change anything about my trip.

Besides school, we have been keeping busy with various social events. We met up with our program director one day for lunch, which was lots of fun. I enjoyed my first hamburger in Peru. Our program director has kind of been our stand-in mom for us. We know that any time we have any issue we can go to her and she will gladly listen. During our first couple weeks here in Peru we spent a lot of time with her and had great bonding experiences with her and her husband. So naturally, after over a month we missed them greatly. Other things that have kept us busy have been various parties, nights full of dancing, times hanging out will new (and not-so-new) friends, and having countless adventures.

Adventure. That is our Huacachina trip in one word. A very common trip for tourists is traveling to an area called Ica. It is to the south of Lima by about four hours, and generally lumped into this place are the cities of Pisco, Paracas, and Huacachina. We arrived in Pisco by bus and spent that evening and the next day in Paracas. Paracas is in the coastal desert region and is home to large tourism, fishing, and oil industries. Paracas is best known for Las Islas Ballestas, which are islands just off the coast, accessible by boat. However, they are a national reserve, so you can’t actually go onto the islands. They are for looking by boat. What is there to look at? Penguins, seagulls, and sea lions! I know, not too exciting for someone who comes from oregon and has seen the penguins at the zoo (same type), goes to the beach often, and has visited the Sea Lion Caves. But it was still a cool experience to have! My favorite part was the sea lions. They are a lot bigger up close! Not too close though, no worries. I was also excited to see pelicans for the first time! Like Nigel from Finding Nemo, which is one of my favorite movies ever. So of course I was pretty excited about this. We also went on a tour of a bunch of different beaches in the national reserve. They were all different, which was cool. When we got back into Paracas I got to experience my first sandstorm! Like a legitimate sandstorm. Everyone had closed up their shops and restaurants and there were no vehicles on the roads.

Once we eventually came across a taxi, we smashed the five of us (six including the driver) into the taxi and drove inland for about an hour to Huacachina, which was our ultimate destination. Huacachina is a city located smack dab in the middle of a bunch of sand dunes. Why? Well, because oases are cool. The oasis in Huacachina is the center of the town and is honestly probably the only reason Huacachina exists. I was definitely surprised by the scenery. Especially in the towering dunes. I legitimately felt as if I was in Aladdin. I had a hard time believing they were real because I was so surprised. I suppose because I have never seen anything like it in real life. Not even close. These dunes were the source of a lot of thrill and adventure the next day. We went on a dune buggy and sand boarding tour that day. Imagine a ten person Jeep flying over sand dunes like a roller coaster, but not on a track. That’s exactly how it was. While several of the passengers weren’t big fans of the ride, me adrenaline-loving self loved it! I suppose I was a little nervous, but the fun and adrenaline definitely won. I attempted sandboarding down a dune once and was not so successful, which is understandable, considering I have never done any type of sport that involves a board. I ended up with a very large amount of powdery sand caked all over my body and decided to stick to sledding down the dunes on my board. Apparently the safest way to go down the humongous dunes is on your stomach, head first. Scary! But so fun and worth it once you got over the difficulty of getting yourself to go for it. I will never forget the final dune we went down. The bottom was unbelievably far. So far that because of the slight curvature of the dune I couldn’t see the bottom. But down I went anyways and it was a blast!

And that was our Huacachina trip. :)



Two weeks into One!


So sorry for the lateness of this post, this one will encompass week 8 and week 9 of being here at Roehampton.

Firstly though, in week 7 we had a fireworks show here on Campus and actually at my college, Southlands celebrating Guy Fawkes night and there were other fireworks shows going on for the rest of the week! It was really nice and obviously in the states, we don’t celebrate this so it was new to experience and really cool.

The weekend before week 8, I went into Central with some friends and we went to the Southbank Centre Food Market that it there every weekend, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. There were all kinds of cuisine there and everything looked so good!! After that we made our way to Oxford St. and went to Topshop so one of the girls could get an ear piercing. I love going into Central and doing something different each time,

Enjoying our chicken, flatbread wraps :)

The school week was fine, getting a bit harder each week but nothing new there. Monday was also Grand, which is when Roehampton rents out the club Grand in Clapham Junction and about half of my flat went which was lovely.

My 21st birthday was on Monday the 16th and though it’s not quite as big a deal here as in America, it is still a bigger birthday. I had never spent a birthday with my aunties or cousin so as a surprise birthday present, they took me to Dublin, Ireland!! It was amazing. None of us had ever been there before so it was great to experience it together. Our hotel was lovely and the city was decorated for Christmas and we were there for the switching on of the lights. The city is really cute, different from London which is massive and full of huge sky scrapers. Nothing is particularly big in Dublin and the streets are smaller. There is a smaller river that leads to the Irish Sea which you could take from Dublin and get to Liverpool, England. On Sunday night, we went to a traditional Irish pub with live music and it was amazing, I could have stayed there for hours.

Came back to Uni on my birthday and my lovely flatmates had decorated my door with balloons and most of us went out for a meal and cocktails and it was so much fun :)

Along the river in Dublin :)

With a few of my friends at a cocktail bar, Be At One

Cheers for now! xx

Tomorrow is a new day

Not every week or day can be wonderful, in any situation, even while exploring abroad (so I just learned). I’m thankful to have my health, my loving friends and family, and all the opportunities that have been given to me. That being said, this week was kind of a let down.

Not all of it though! I went to the musical, which was interesting to watch and fun to experience. It was more of a theatrical choir maybe? Definitely something similar to what a college theater/musical group in Portland might come up with.

Then, we went to the soccer game! Which was super fun to watch and participate in! Ecuador won against Uruguay, even with three injured players, so as of right now we are in the number one spot for the world cup!

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It was a lot less crazy than I expected. At least where we sat, it was a total family affair! We even made friends with the 4 year old boy in front of us, who decided he liked us so much that he would spend the whole game on our laps (especially Lauren’s, she seemed to be a fantastic human jungle gym). And of course the parents definitely didn’t mind getting a couple hours of alone time to watch the game, while we got our face paint poked at and Becca got her beer dumped. Haha

Speaking of snacks, tons of vendors walked around offering foods of all sorts. You didn’t even have to get up. So for $5.50 I got two epenadas, a big bag of popcorn, and like a 20 oz beer (still can’t bring myself to like that stuff–bleh).

On Thursday I also said goodbye to Doctor Palacio and the great people at the dermatology clinic.


Every Thursday meeting is finished off with a fancy (and FREE) breakfast of fruit, yogurt, granola, bread and jam, eggs, coffee, tea, and some sort of sweet. So I pretended like it was more of a going away party for me 😉


Unfortunately, this is where the great times seemed to end. On Friday the 13th the girls and I loaded onto a bus to Riobamba, a city about 4 hours South of Quito. Here we spent one of the scariest bus rides we’ve been on in Ecuador, and unfortunately passed fatalities on the road as we went by. These scenes were yet to be dealt with, so images of dead bodies on the road were in our minds as we swerved along to our destination.

One of the reasons we went to Riobamba was for a train that brings you around a boulder/mountain called the Devil’s Nose. When we went to buy tickets for the train later that day, we were told: 1) the price had gone up, and 2) there was construction, so the bus would ACTUALLY be departing from Alousi, a town 2 hours south, and the bus fair to get there was not included. We bought the tickets anyway, figuring we had already made the trip. At this point Becca’s brand new hiking boots had disappeared from her backpack as well, and we were not able to get any information from any of our bus or taxi drivers about their possible location. Maybe we should check eBay.

After a somewhat exhausting day, we got pizza at a little diner, which comfortingly turned out to be the best pizza I’ve had here (still nothing like the US). As we left the restaurant, it had gotten dark and we talked about going around to check out the night life of the city. However, in this short walk we all had begun to feel uneasy about our surroundings and the people paying attention to us on the streets. Not to mention passing a fatal car crash as we went for ice cream. And right as we decided to head back to the hotel instead, someone tried to pick-pocket me. Luckily, we have been on high alert since Lauren was robbed, and honestly he was just incredibly obvious, so he didn’t get too far before I caught on.

After what we thought was the ending to the terrible turn of events, we came back to our room to hear about the shootings in Paris. And by that time, I felt very defeated. I can’t even really explain the vulnerable feeling you get when something terrible like that happens in the world, and you are over 4000 miles away from all your loved ones. The entire world was hurting and being effected by this act of terrorism, and I couldn’t even hug my parents or my boyfriend. I’m going to be frank: it really sucked. We went to bed eager for the day to be over.

The next morning we went to Alousi, a town much cuter than I expected.

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And here was where I got to take my first train ride ever (unless you count the mini train at Oak’s Amusement Park).

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Which brings you on a 45 minute ride around Ecuador’s beautiful scenery, and then to the previously mentioned boulder/mountain, El Nariz Del Diablo:

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This outing went well, and was even accompanied by coconut ice cream. After heading back Riobamba we had dinner and a girls’ night in the hotel to try and make up for the last evening that didn’t go so well. By 6 am all of us were woken up by our neighbor vigorously hacking up something from his throat for at least 10 minutes. (Who needs an alarm clock when you have flem?)

Sunday we visited a town called Guano before making the trip home. Although small and not much of a tourist destination, I think it was worth visiting (However don’t come here if you’re interested in hearing a talented church chorus):

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Leaving Riobamba we were thankfully some of the last people to secure seats on the bus to Quito. However, here we passed more death on the side of the road, and it was where Lauren’s seat partner tried to rob her while she was sleeping (we’re smarter than that now people, come on).

Next, in Quito, we took a city bus back home. This was where Becca dropped a copy of her passport, and intelligently, I reached my leg out to try and swipe up the passport with my foot. Unfortunately, this left my leg and a terrible position, and then the bus came to a screeching halt, which caused my knee to buckle and I got to feel what it was like to have your patella pop out of the socket and then right back into place. This is why I am sitting on my bed at 1 pm writing this blog post instead of scrubbing in on awesome surgeries. I’m still mad enough I really don’t want to go into more detail.

And lastly, as I crawled into bed thinking that this weekend couldn’t end any worse, I found out a former classmate of mine, who just graduated June 2015, was killed in a hiking accident in the Redwoods. My love and condolences go out to the friends and family of Henry Nittler. He was always so kind, and dedicated to so many different activities. He will be missed by the entire North Eugene High School community, I am sure.

Sadly, this is where the blog post ends. I am desperately hoping for a better week ahead: for me, my loved ones back home, and those suffering across the world. Tomorrow is a new day. And now, after getting all the ugly events off my chest, I’m going to try and look towards the positive and make an effort to end the bitterness I’m harboring. Bad things happen, so now I just can’t let it ruin the short experience I have left here.

Love and appreciate everyone so much, I really should say it more.

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Week 8 London 2k15

Hello again!

I cannot believe it is already week eight. I have spent the last week(ish) in Italy and have just gotten back to London. Thus, I am now writing this post!

Italy was amazing! I had such a wonderful time. I went to both Rome and Venice. They were both beautiful in their own ways. The weather was also a huge bonus as it was in the mid 70s the whole time I was there. This time a friend went with me and that was really really great. I enjoyed having someone to talk to and to have meals with. The food was definitely one of the best parts. Although, I think I gained at least ten pounds.

The culture in Italy is much different from London. You almost never see someone eating alone, unless they are a tourist. People in Italy always seem to go out in large groups. Also, basically everyone drinks wine. I do not remember seeing one beer the entire time I was there. People in Italy are MUCH more social than people in London. It isn’t that the people in London are not nice, but they wont just strike up a conversation with you on public transport or in a restaurant. Italy is the exact opposite. At just about every meal the people sitting next to us tried to speak to us. Sometimes they only spoke Italian and a little English so the conversations were minimum but they would still smile at you during the meal and say goodbye when they leave.

One thing I did not like about Italy was all the people around the big monuments who were trying to sell you things. They seriously refuse to leave you alone. You try to ignore them, but they are quite persistent. We had one guy basically chase after us for two blocks before he finally gave up. It made wandering the streets not very nice. Sometimes we would go into a restaurant or shop and look around for a bit just to get away.

Overall though the trip was wonderful and I would love to go back someday. There is much more of Italy I want to see, but didn’t have the time. I leave for Scotland tomorrow for a few days and then in a little over a week my boyfriend is coming to visit. I am so incredibly excited. I hope you all are enjoying your adventures.



Relaxing week

This has by far been my most relaxed week in Quito. In fact, so relaxed, it has made me a little stir-crazy. We have been non-stop going almost every second since we’ve been here, so having time to sleep in and even finish a book I’m ready felt strange.

Wednesday, we ate cuy: Ecuador’s fanciest dish and also known as Guinea Pig in the United States. No, it was not good. I even sort of had high expectations for it. At this point I have tried guinea pig, goat, cow’s blood, cow intestine, cow stomach lining, and pig skin. I don’t think I’ll ever eat any of those again, but I did it and I didn’t die either.

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Thursday evening the girls and I went out to a Salsa club that is known for having a clientele of professional dancers and choreographers. I’ve never seen such beautiful dancing in my life. That includes anything I’ve watched on TV or youtube. These people looked like they had practiced dancing together for years, but the majority of them had never even danced together before. If you want to see some real talent, might as well buy a plane ticket to Ecuador right now. After a while us girls were asked to dance, and thankfully the people asking us knew what they were getting themselves into. But that didn’t even matter, our dance partners were SO good that we were doing moves we had never learned before, all from how easy it was to follow them (and if you couldn’t follow them, well they would just move you themselves and somehow make it look natural). It was by far one of the funnest nights out I have had here, and even though these were the best dancers I’ve ever tried to salsa with, they made me feel the most comfortable. YAY.

On Friday we took a cable car (called the Teleferiqo) up one of Quito’s highest points, to 13,000 feet altitude. Here, you’re supposed to be able to see out over Quito from dangling in the air. However, just our luck, a thunder and lightning storm hit just as we were about at the highest peak, but not close enough to get out of the cable car. We panicked as the cable stopped the cart we were sitting in, and waited for a good ten minutes, watching the storm around us while dangling in the air. Finally, we were taken to the top and got out, where we spent over an hour in a cafe watching the lightning. It wasn’t how we envisioned the outing, but it was pretty cool getting to see it from a warm chair with hot chocolate and chifles (plantain chips). You could even pay to have some flavored oxygen.


I didn’t have a camera at the time, and I probably wouldn’t have thought to use it while suspended 13000 feet up during a storm, so here is a google image of what the teleferiqo looks like on a sunny day (also here is the link so I don’t get sued: :

146 teleferico above Quito

Friday was also my three year anniversary with Christopher, so I got to spend my evening as perfectly as possible while in separate continents: skype date!


Saturday started out fantastic. The girls and I went out to breakfast, then Ejido Park, where we got to stroll around and look at stands of Ecuadorian hand crafts. Here I bought the final two of my three oil paintings I will be bringing home with me, and am very in love with all of them:



Then I was able to buy a decent amount of gifts all at the same craft stand, and I dropped enough money that the man I was buying them from was shaking and thanking god as I handed him the well-deserved money. It feels really good to see how something as simple as buying someone’s handmade work can make an impact. It was a mutually benefiting transaction, and we both left extremely happy campers.

Unfortunately, that feeling didn’t last on the way home. My dear friend Lauren got her wallet stolen on the trole. This was frustrating for multiple reasons, but one of which was that we did everything we were supposed to in order to not become targets. We stayed close to each other, we had our bags in front of us, at least one hand on the bag, AND kept an eye out. Sadly, the bus was packed and a lady snuck up behind Lauren and was able to cut her wallet out of her bag with a knife. Even more aggravating, sweet little Lauren felt someone touching her bag and was was worried she might offend them by acting as if she was worried they were robbing her, so she just moved her purse to the other side of her body, where they couldn’t reach. But it was too late. I realized a lady next to us, who had JUST gotten on the bus at the same time as us, was getting off at the next stop and making a run for it. Then Lauren saw her slashed bag. We had been targeted even before we stepped on the trole (which hadn’t been more than a minute, if that).

Here’s the good news: at that point in the day we were all very broke, and had chosen not to go to the ATM that far away from the house. So the lady only made off with $10 and a debit card, which Lauren immediately canceled. And we think since Lauren moved her bag, the lady knew she was about to get caught, and didn’t bother trying to steal the camera that was also in her bag — thank goodness. Also, lets not forget she had a knife. Thank goodness it was only used for a dang purse. This was also a lesson-learned. We can’t get comfortable and lazy even though it’s been 7 weeks. Even if you follow all the rules in the book, if someone wants to take advantage of you, they will find a way to do it. Especially if they’re desperate. We just have to hope that $10 was put to good use.Which is a reason this blog post is lacking in pictures after Saturday: I have yet to bring a photo-taking device out of the house with me since this incident.

Sunday we went to Papallacta hot springs, 2 hours north of Quito. We ended up taking a taxi to the wrong bus station, over an hour and a half away from the station we were supposed to go to, so we splurged and paid a taxi to just take us all the way to the springs — that way we didn’t waste an extra two hours. At this point in the weekend, I think we were all needing a little TLC. At Papallacta they have 7 pools filled with natural mineral water, 6 of them with varying temperatures of heat, one of them ice cold. We spent a good four hours hopping from hot water to hot water, enjoying the mountains and river in the distance, and basking in the ability to actually have water warm enough to bite your skin again. We would have likely stayed a couple more hours if it weren’t for the thunder and lighting that hit. Sitting in a hot pool with cold rain feels amazing, but not amazing enough to risk being electrocuted. Here is a google picture of Papallacta, since our belongings were religiously locked up the entire day ( (1)

This week I went back to the dermatology clinic, and had a wonderful time. The more I stay there, the more I am interested in this specialty. It’s also nice to see the differences in practice when it comes to addressing the patient and prescribing medication.  The doctor I am shadowing is very stern about the concept that the patient is more than a medical problem in need of a diagnoses. He encourages small talk, wants us to know their full name, where they grew up, if they have children, etc. He lectures about small talk being one of the most important parts of the consultation, because it could give you necessary incite on the problem their facing that you might otherwise miss if you’re solely concerned about the symptoms. Dermatology is also a business where you potentially have to deliver bad news, and no one wants to receive bad news from a stranger. I love and appreciate his perspective. He also is very interested in making sure I understand what is going on 100% of the time, which I appreciate, because I’m sure it would be much easier to be bitter that someone came to a country to learn without even knowing the language fluently.

It’s hard to not feel like you’re a burden when you can’t fully understand someone, or express exactly what you want to say. I am so grateful for the kindness Ecuadorians have shown me in this department, and it hurts my heart to think that students in my same position in the United States are much less likely to receive the understanding that I have been given. I hope one day my country can be more accepting of cultures or customs outside of our own personal practices, and be compassionate towards people struggling to make ends meet in a place that is so foreign. I can’t imagine the difficulties someone would face in the US if they just moved there, are trying to work or go to school, AND all of a sudden be expected to be fluent in another language. Sheesh.

Working in the clinic has been a blast, and I can’t wait for the next few weeks of experiences, but I can’t help but miss my job back home. I have loved being a CNA more than I ever imagined, and already two months away from my residents and Valley West has made me excited to return to them. It’s difficult going to school in a town an hour and a half away from your favorite job. Hopefully the things I learned at clinicals here will improve my work back in Eugene. Or at the very least provide me with some entertaining stories to share.

Yesterday we went to my favorite restaurant: Crepes & Waffles. (pronounced Cray-pays-eee-wah-flays). Lauren and I make a solid effort to drag Rebeccah here at least twice a week. Who knew the reason I’d go broke in South America was because of all the gourmet ice cream I shove down my face?

Tonight I am headed out to dinner, and then to a Musical! I have no idea what it’s about, but we’re going with some girls we met at the beach who live here in Quito, and I’m sure it will be a fantastic experience.

Thursday we are going to a futbol game here in Quito: Ecuador against Uruguay. This is a BIG DEAL because both teams are in the running for the World Cup. We are painting our faces and going with our Spanish teachers as security guards, because apparently the crowds can get PRETTY wild. I don’t know what would be worse for my safety: if we win or lose.

I have learned that I am incredibly bad at “besos.” Which is when you greet or say goodbye to someone in Ecuador, and you lean in, put your cheeks against each other, and kiss the air. Almost like kissing each other’s cheeks at the same time, but not quite as intimate. One would think that I would have mastered this by week 7, but here I am, never failing at making the situation awkward. I am either excited I remembered, and seem very eager to kiss this new person. Or I don’t remember, and people lean in as I’m walking away. Or someone catches me off guard, and it doesn’t register that this person leaning close to my face is not in fact trying to kiss me on the mouth. In that situation, which has happened multiple times, I do the classic “duck and retreat” followed by a look like “whoa I just met you and you’re like 30. What do you think is going on here?” Hopefully the fact that I’m whiter than their lab coats is explanation enough for my ridiculous behavior.

With my free time this week I finished up the book “My Year With Eleanor” and started Amy Poehler’s book “Yes Please.” Both were incredibly thought provoking and literally laugh-out-loud funny. If anyone is looking for a feel good book to read, I recommend both. (Especially Yes Please if you like very blunt honesty in a hilariously vulgar way).

We have yet to come up with some plans for this weekend, but we BEST be doing something because time seems to be running out! I will officially be home in one month, all ready to start celebrating the holidays. Woop Woop.

Alright, I’ll be in touch soon! Hopefully with more news to share and pictures to post! Chao.


Week 10: Lisa Goes to Ireland

One of the great things that I love about CISAbroad, the program that I’m studying through, is that the program includes trips and excursions {though it’s the least they could do for how much the program costs!} This last weekend they took us on a trip to Belfast in Northern Ireland it was a very different experience. Belfast is enriched with so much history; it was fascinating to learn about it, however it was also rather depressing. There was a huge war that happened in 1969 between the Protestants and Roman Catholics. 48 walls were built in order to separate the two groups. There were bombings and fires. Though I absolutely loved learning about the history, it was rather very sad. There also wasn’t a lot of pubs or nightlife. In fact, on our second night the nearest and only pub to our hostel closed at 6pm. It was a great opportunity however to relax and appreciate the beauty in Ireland. One of my favorite things about traveling even within Ireland is seeing all the greenery and castles as we drive by.  During my time in Belfast I also visited Giant’s Causway, which was beautiful, I felt like I was back home as I walked along the beach. Lastly, we visted Kings Road which is where parts of Game of Thrones is fillmed, and also The Titanic Experience where the Titanic was build.  I’ve finally reached the 30-day mark until I come home and I am very excited. I miss my friends and family, and am ready to celebrate the holidays with them. At the same time, I can’t help but be sad that this journey is almost over. It’s truly been a life changing experience.


Giant's Causeway Beach

Giant’s Causeway Beach

Replica of the Titanic

Replica of the Titanic

King's Road

King’s Road

Part of the graffiti  on The Peace Wall.

Part of the graffiti on The Peace Wall.


These murals were painted all over Belfast to commensurate the war.

These murals were painted all over Belfast to commensurate the war.


Sunset along Giant's Causeway

Sunset along Giant’s Causeway

The Peace Wall- Just one of the many walls builds to separate  the two groups.

The Peace Wall- Just one of the many walls builds to separate the two groups.

My study abroad program.

My study abroad program.


The bullets that were used during the war-made of plastic and rubber

The bullets that were used during the war-made of plastic and rubber















Due to the stress of midterms, the excitement of fall break, and the fact that I have never kept a blog or journal in my life up to this point, it recently occurred to me that I just might be a couple weeks behind on my posts! Oops. So, long story short, I have quite a lot of catching up to do! With the exception of fall break, the last few weeks have been fairly uneventful. Due to midterm preparations and the anticipation of fall break expenses, I traveled very little. I attended the Perugia Chocolate Festival, and during fall break I was delighted to be able to travel to London, Edinburgh, Dublin, and Brussels! Below I will include my favorite pictures from fall break, though some of these places I visited (Old Town in Scotland, The Cliffs of Moher, London as seen from the top of the London Eye) are simply so beautiful and breathtaking that no picture could do them justice! To truly experience the beauty of each of these places you must see them for yourself!




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2015-10-28 13.48.432015-10-29 09.55.032015-10-29 11.16.092015-10-29 11.45.582015-10-29 11.46.362015-10-29 12.44.312015-10-29 14.23.022015-10-29 15.39.352015-10-29 16.02.462015-10-29 16.24.292015-10-30 09.45.47


2015-10-31 14.46.332015-10-31 20.11.142015-10-31 16.37.242015-10-31 16.28.272015-10-31 16.38.412015-10-31 13.26.39-12015-10-31 13.20.452015-10-31 12.09.172015-10-31 11.43.482015-10-31 11.11.372015-10-31 11.00.302015-10-30 19.51.55



Beaches and Clinical Rotations

The week has gone by so fast I can’t stand it. I’m hoping the others slow down, I can’t bare to believe that by this weekend I will only have one month left here. It’s physically painful.

Last Thursday I said a bitter-sweet good bye to my babies. One little boy even started crying, saying I could get a job as the school doctor, and that I didn’t need to go shadow in the hospitals. How can I not tear up at that?

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That night me and the girls boarded a 10 hour bus ride to Montanita, a beach town known for its shops and surfing, but quite possibly more famous for its non-stop partying. Although we had somewhat of an idea of what we were getting ourselves into, I think it’s safe to say we were a little clueless on this town’s idea of parties. I’ve never been to Vegas, but I’m going to go a head and make that comparison.

Our days were mostly overcast, but don’t let that fool you: we lounged in 80 degree weather the majority of the time, and none of us escaped without some sunburns.

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Our hostel was probably the nicest place we’ve stayed in so far, besides maybe the tree house in Mindo. It also had a bunch of Hawaii signs and sayings, which was fun to see. According to our neighbor from Peru, many Hawaiians come to Ecuador and Peru’s coast to see what “real surfing” is.

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And although the night clubs (discotecs), banana coladas, and general night life were fun to experience for a short while, we found it much more enjoyable to be doing other things, like riding bikes through the sandy streets, looking around shops, and reading on the beach.

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Shocking enough, the coast is famous for it’s seafood (who would guess?). And while here, I promised Chris’s dad that I would try one of Ecuador’s most famous seafood dishes: Ceviche. It’s like a cold soup, with (usually raw) squid, fish, shrimp, and shellfish, along with a sauce similar to pico de gallo: tomato, onion, peppers, cilantro, and lime.

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Although tasty, I think it was a bit much at 11 am (locals swear you have to have it before noon), and I couldn’t help but feet like I should be eating it like a salsa with chips, instead of straight with a spoon. Either way, it’s probably safe to say I had one of the best and most authentic versions of the dish.

We also managed to find bowls of at least 8 types of fruit, omelettes for $2 that were twice the size of our face, and coconut juice that would make you buy a plane ticket to Ecuador just to come back and have again (have I mentioned how much I’m going to miss the juice here when I have to leave?).

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After 3 nights in Montanita, including being mildly impressed by the Halloween activities and making friends with multiple street dogs, we took a bus an hour and a half north to the beach of Puerto Lopez.

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Here we took a 1.5 hour boat ride to La Isla De la Plata , an island off the coast of Puerto Lopez that is said to be similar to the Galapagos Islands. I was NOT one of the two people who got sea sick on that trip (Thank goodness for Dramamine).

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On our way to the island we saw a whale, which is a really big deal because the majority of them make their trek to warmer waters (is that possible?) in mid August-September.


Once there, we snorkeled the coral reef where we saw a sting ray, sea turtles, and other exotic fishies. (That picture is of a sea turtle) And little sand crabs!


After snorkeling we hiked to the highest point on the island and along the way saw some lizards, but more impressively: some birds literally called blue-footed boobies. Their feet, legs, and beak become a darker shade of blue with age. Their nests are lined all over the island, and we were lucky enough to see them not only sitting on eggs, but to also see them hatched with day old baby boobies.


On the way back we lounged in the sun and ate water melon (life is hard, isn’t it?).

We spent the evening enjoying Puerto Lopez and the festivities that commenced for El Dia De los Muertos, the second of three holidays this weekend. However, the fiestas were not so intriguing when the music was still blasting at 3 am and we had to be up at 4 am for a 12 hour trek back home to Quito. (By trek I mean annoyingly long bus rides) We did, however, get to share a hostel and dinner with two girls from the Netherlands, which was fun!

Today, Wednesday, was my first day in clinical rotations. FINALLY.

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My first rotation is at a dermatology clinic instead of general medicine (which seems to be just a lot of prescriptions and medication checks). I was in HEAVEN today (some of you may know I’m considering dermatology as a specialty). I worked along the side of 7 Ecuadorian medical students and a fabulous doctor who cared a lot about teaching us. (Also, a little perk, most students and staff at the clinic could speak a decent amount of English, so when I had trouble understanding something, they could clarify!)

First, the doctor showed us pamphlets they give patients, and forms doctors fill out during the consultation. Then he showed us their most commonly used tools. They have a scope you use to look closely at problem areas, like moles or acne, and that scope can attach to an ipad, where you take a picture. With that picture you can discuss the diagnoses with multiple doctors or students, get second opinions without the patient present, save it as a reference to see the progression of the skin issue, and email it to your patient for their own references. When we had downtime between patients, the other students and I would zoom in on each other’s freckles, moles, and other skin abnormalities. Which was extra fun because the doctor showed us how to label moles based on their color, size, symmetry, and density, then rank it with a point system, and determine if it the mole was possibly problematic or needed further evaluation.

Once we were more comfortable and sat in on a couple consultations, the doctor would have us do an entire appointment in pairs. We’d interview the patient, collect medical and family history, even do a physical consult (in simple situations), then come up with our best diagnoses (the patients knew we were students of course). After that, the doctor would come in, go over our notes, give us advice on how to improve them, then do his own consultation and diagnoses, and compare it with ours. After his diagnoses he would explain his recommendation/prescription to both us and the patient, then after the patient leaves we would have a discussion about the appointment. I got to be a part of four of these and saw everything from fungal infections, to warts, to contact dermatitis, to skin ulcers. On patients ages 4 to 84. IT. WAS. AWESOME.

Due to the week being so short, I will get to spend another week at this clinic and I’m incredibly excited. After that I will spend a week in surgery, a week in maternity, and a week in pediatrics (then a week in Peru, then home! What?)

I was incredibly nervous for my first day today and am so happy I left with a huge smile. I made friends my age (all on my own, with a language barrier) that are interested in the same fields and live in Quito as well. The doctors were beyond friendly and welcoming, and the patients were even more encouraging than I expected. I couldn’t be more thrilled. Tomorrow, the doctor asked us if we could come in early, but he’s buying us breakfast to make up for the inconvenience. I mean what the heck, is this real life?

Alright, I have to get to bed if I’m going to do anything productive with my day tomorrow (rumor has it we are eating cuy, also known as guinea pig in the United States).

Yo Escribire mas adelante! :) Chao!