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: http://www.deanmyerson.org/files/photo%20archive/foreign/ecuador/146%20teleferico%20above%20Quito.jpg) :

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 (http://loveecuadorliving.com/wpcontent/uploads/2014/03/1.1273165345.hot-springs.jpg):

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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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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!



Scotland and Halloween

Since my last post I traveled to Scotland for a weekend and it was absolutely beautiful! I went with the same program I went to Paris with called Somewhere New which is specifically for students studying around London. I knew I would like my tour guide from the start because when we met him outside the train in Edinburgh he had brought his dog with him. His dog’s name was Bonnie and if you know me at all you know how much I love dogs so needless to say I was thrilled to play with her. She was so well behaved and got way too excited every time she saw our tour guide. Our tour guide was a Scottish man who is at least, I don’t know, probably mid-fifties, early sixties. He had the rudest sense of humor of anyone I’ve ever met but he was hilarious and I really enjoyed getting to know him.

The first night we stayed at a hostel in Edinburgh which was the first time I’ve stayed in a hostel. It was really nice and even though I went on this trip knowing no one, I made friends with a group of girls who actually go to my school here in London. I love them to pieces and am very thankful to have met them and gotten to have roomed with them. During our evening of free time in Edinburgh we went to a pub and had delicious food for dinner (plus they gave us a student discount so my whole meal was only 5 pounds!) We also went on a walking ghost tour which I was expecting to be more scary than it actually was. The only time I got scared was when the ghost tour guide jumped out and said “boo!”

The next day we began our drive through the Highlands and stopped at many different locations to take pictures. We stopped at this restaurant/cafe in the middle of nowhere to eat. Our tour guide recommended us to try cullen skink which is a traditional Scottish soup made with potatoes and fish. It smelled delicious as we walked into the restaurant so of course I had to try it. It was so delicious! I would go back to Scotland just to have another bowl of that yummy soup! After I had finished eating I went and  looked around the gift shop near the cafe when I saw two young girls freaking out to their parents. I asked them what was going on and they told me that Shaliene Woodley was in the restaurant part of the cafe and that they had just met her. I went to find my friends to let them know but by the time we got back into the area where she was, she was gone. Some of the girls on our tour said they saw her walk right past our tour bus and into her own bus so I know that the little girls weren’t lying to me.

We ended up staying at a hostel near Loch Ness which was also in the middle of nowhere then we made our way through the rest of the Highlands then back to Edinburgh the next day. Everything about Scotland was so gorgeous and I would definitely recommend everyone to go visit there at least once. I honestly didn’t think I would enjoy Scotland nearly as much as I did. I would love to go back for a few days before I come home in December but my schedule is very full until then.

On the Friday before Halloween my school threw a Halloween dance that I never made it to even though I bought my ticket. I was hanging out with my friends before hand and by the time I made it to the dance the security guard told me that they had run out of wristbands so he couldn’t let me in. I honestly didn’t really want to go anyway so I wasn’t too mad but I still want my money back. Regardless of not being able to get into the dance I still had a really fun night with my friends and getting to know some new friends which is all I wanted to do anyway. On Halloween night me and two of my friends from Iowa went to this club in Kingston to meet up with some of our friends that don’t go to school with us. It was fun too but while we were waiting in line some people dressed as scary zombies kept creeping me out. I don’t like scary things so I seriously considered leaving before we even made it inside.

In less than two days from now I am leaving for Rome and I’m very excited!12191977_10207780361256584_4920397728638574225_n 12189120_10207780483539641_6587576272647343617_n 12043104_10207780351376337_2952250326033604023_n 11250996_10207804469339271_6551381377331360861_n 10408789_10207780361776597_3711768077521172318_n

Mid term post-London


It is the beginning of week 7 and Reading week for me, meaning I don’t have most of my classes this week!

Thought  I would put up a somewhat mid-term post and put some photos up because all of my other posts have been without pictures. Apologies for that!

Just went home to Sutton for the weekend which was lovely. I live with a family friend when I am not on campus and I met up with my Aunties too which is always really nice. Sutton is just outside London and on the bus, about 45-50 minutes away so not bad. Went to Kingston a neighboring borough actually not far from Roehampton and it is always fun going there because there is really good shopping! Also it is looking very Christmas-y so would recommend it to other students here in London!

Here are some photos around London and Surrey that I have taken since being here. :)

A lovely park in Surrey, a suburb just outside London

One of the views from the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral. One of my favourite places in London and if you haven’t been I would recommend it!

The Albert Bridge in Chelsea. I have been watching the reality tv show Made in Chelsea for over two years and walking around Chelsea, a very posh neighbourhood in London was amazing :)

Most of my lovely flat mates that I love to bits :)

More to come later, I promise I will be a better blogger in the future :)

Cheers, xx

Week 6&7 London 2k15


I am sorry it has been so long! I have been traveling for the past two weeks so I have not had much internet access. The traveling has been amazing though!! I went to Brussels, Bruges, Amsterdam and Berlin and did it all on my own! It was such a crazy, fun, awesome adventure.

Brussels was not what I was expecting, but the major sites were nice. There just wasn’t much to do there so I was glad I was only there for a day. Next I was in Bruges, which is this medieval town in northern Belgium. It was such a cute town and I really enjoyed my time there. I took a canal cruise and saw a windmill! Amsterdam was next and it was great. The first night I went to the Anne Frank house and that was definitely my favorite part of my time in Amsterdam. Seeing history like that is so incredible. You can really imagine what it must have been like. It was so sad but also very humbling. Next was Berlin and it was definitely my favorite city of the trip! There was something about it that made me feel so welcome and safe. Overall, the trip was wonderful and I had such a good time. I learned a lot about myself and discovered that I actually don’t mind being alone as much as I thought I would.

Everyone in both Belgium and Amsterdam spoke English really well. The first time I had problems communicating was Berlin and it was actually kind of fun. It was an experience I haven’t had yet while abroad, and I found it quite cool. No one was ever mad that I didn’t speak German and even if they didn’t speak English, they would still try really hard to help me out. The best thing was that instead of getting frustrated about not being able to communicate, they would just start laughing and politely make it obvious that they did not understand. Everyone I met was really nice and that made it easier to be alone.

Although I was sad to leave my adventure, I was also excited to get back to London. I missed my room, my friends, and even London itself. I did not have much time to relax as it was Halloween, but I did manage to catch up on a bit of sleep. On Friday the Uni held a Halloween dance party and that was a lot of fun. It was nice seeing everyone, even though it had only been a little over a week. It made me realize how great it is going to be to see everyone back home again.

Speaking of home, I have reached and passed the halfway point of this trip. In a little over six weeks I will be on a plane back to Oregon. I am excited, but I still have a lot more to do until then. Friday I head off to Italy! This month is definitely a busy one. I will try my best to keep in touch regularly.





London Living Week 5

Late again, sorry!! I was ill again during week 5 and forgot! I must be susceptible to European bugs!

Rough start to the week, what with being ill but had a lovely weekend. Went into Central both on Saturday and Sunday and it was great. I feel like I am really seeing more of London. I always go from our local station of Barnes to Waterloo because from there you can go wherever! Had to get my glasses from Specsavers so did the route that I now know very well, across Waterloo Bridge to the Strand. I then headed to the City via the North Bank, this was new for me because I usually walk places on the South Bank of the river, The City is where the financial district is and also St. Paul’s Cathedral which I love. I had lunch in one of my favourite food chain eateries, Pret a Manger. They do sandwiches and soups and coffee etc. It is good and it is cheap. Close to the Cathedral is a small shopping centre and I went there next to look around and I got a couple of things.

It was nice having a ‘me day’ in central and I feel so comfortable even in parts of London I don’t know as well.

I went in again on Sunday because I have Swedish friends who were in London for the weekend and we met up for dinner and a catch up. I went in early and walked from Waterloo to the Tower Bridge, which is quite a walk. I just walked along the South Bank and when I got to the Bridge I just sat for a bit and relaxed. I made my way to Piccadilly to meet my friends and we went to a lovely pub and they paid for me :)

Classes were fine during the week, wasn’t feeling ideal but not too bad. I haven’t said before, but my friend and I are in the kickboxing group together and it is great. It isn’t easy but I already feel fitter and I know that doing this the whole year is a great way to stay in shape. It is on Thursday’s and Sunday’s.

Cheers for now x

A Month in Ecuador

I can’t believe it has already been over a month in Ecuador.

I remember sitting on the couch December 30th, incredibly frustrated with myself that I had wanted to go abroad for as long as I could remember, yet I was 19 and hadn’t even been to Canada or Mexico. That was when I made my first ever New Year’s resolution: By January 2016 I wanted to at least have purchased plane tickets to a new country. And now look at me! I’ll have been in two other countries, another continent, a completely different hemisphere AND back home all before January. I’m not sure I could get any luckier.

Things are starting to settle down and feel normal here. The altitude doesn’t bother me, cultural differences don’t come across as shocking, the consistent chicken, rice, and soup for practically every meal is beginning to feel comforting, hearing everyone around me speak Spanish seems like second nature, and my routine feels as though it could really just be my every day life, like it doesn’t have an expiration date. It makes me sad to remember this is temporary, and by the end of this week my program will be half way over. (WHAT?)

The one thing that has yet to feel normal is the constant stomach issues. Last Wednesday I made my first (and hopefully last) trip to an Ecuador emergency room at 10 pm. It was my fourth time coming down with what seemed to be pretty severe food poisoning, but I also had some new symptoms that were a little nerve-wracking. Instead of sitting in pain, my roommates convinced me to go in and make sure it wasn’t something more severe, considering I have no idea what kind of sicknesses you can contract down here.


Sure enough, after 3 hours of sitting next to a screaming baby, an IV, some weak pain medicine, multiple med students taking turns squishing my stomach (which seemed more like having a contest of who could actually grab my intestines) I was sent home with antibiotics, pedialite, and the diagnoses of an intestinal infection from good ol’ street food. At least I got the reassurance that it was nothing worse, and got to observe an emergency room in a developing country from the patient’s perspective.

Everyone was incredibly nice, the tools/machines they used seemed outdated but were effective, and their techniques were interesting to watch. I even got to practice my Spanish by trying to explain my entire medical history with a very limited vocabulary. Thank goodness for Rosita – she makes every situation down right hilarious. Even when you’re sure your stomach is about to explode.

On Saturday we set off for one of Ecuador’s most famous lakes, which was voted the best hiking destination multiple years in a row online.

I present: Laguna de Quilotoa


Reminding me very much of crater lake, only practically double its altitude at almost 13000 feet, this beautiful body of water was created by a collapsed volcano due to a massive eruption 800 years ago. Geologists claim it is around 250 meters deep (820 ft) but the Indigenous people of the village have a much more intriguing theory of it being bottomless.

This lake sits to the side of the Indigenous village, Quilotoa, home to about 50 families of native Ecuadorians. This is where we stayed for the night.


This was our hostel: Hosteria Alpaca. It was ran by an adorable family that for $17 gave you a room (with a fire place and queen beds), AND made you a home cooked communal dinner and breakfast, with tea by the fire downstairs whenever you felt like visiting with back packers who stopped by.


(sorry for the sideways picture. I have given up on trying to turn the darn things.)

This was the lady and one of her sons that ran the business constantly, no matter the hour. Their clothes were much more than just a fashion statement, they were completely necessary. It got SO cold. I made sure to pack my warmest clothes I brought with me, but they didn’t even begin to cut it. So the majority of our down time I spent by the fire, snuggling with the hostal kitty:


After each weekend I always say “now THAT is the prettiest place we’ve been to so far in Ecuador!” But this time, I REALLY mean it. The views were breath-taking. I could have watched that lake and the mountains forever and be completely content. The entire time I was there I kept thinking “there is no where else in the entire world I’d rather be right now.” Something just felt extra special on that mountain.


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We got a late start to the steep hike on Saturday but it did not disappoint. On the way down I ended up rolling my ankle (multiple times–of course), but we had the companionship of stray dogs and cranky donkeys to keep us company. Speaking of 4 legged creatures, hikers have the option of riding horses back up the hill they likely slipped the majority of the way down.


Now before you judge me, remember I had rolled my ankle, AND it was getting dark (I’m also pretty out of shape). So yes, I opted to take the horse back up for everyone’s benefit. My friend Becca did the same while Lauren and Kristina trekked their way back up. The good news is that the money we paid to ride the horses went towards a young girl’s education fund, with dreams of one day studying in Quito. How can you say no to that?


This is a picture of a dog (“perrito”) sleeping outside the village (I promise it was just sleeping). There are tons of dogs here for how tiny it is, but they seem very well cared for by the community, unlike other cities in Ecuador unfortunately. I saw a puppy husky mix and was trying to find ways to put it in my suitcase.

I actually calculated wrong and have one more week with the kids before moving onto clinical rotations. Which turned out to be nice since I was sick during what I thought was my last day. I’ve built a great connection with both the teacher and the kids, and I’m going to miss them a lot after I move onto the next phase of this program. I’ve been bringing bubbles (burbujas) and stickers to class every day, so the kids are behaving wonderfully, of course. I also took a bunch of videos of the kids singing and dancing, which I’m going to keep forever :) so cute



This weekend we get a nice long break due to back-to-back holidays. First, on Monday, it is The Day of the Dead (super excited about this. Look it up if you’ve never heard about it) and then Cuenca’s Independence day on Tuesday. So Friday-Tuesday we will be soaking up the sun on Ecuador’s coast line in the beautiful Montanita and Puerto Lopez beaches.

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Unfortunately, this means a ten-twelve hour bus ride since the flights almost tripled in price due to the holiday. I’ve done the car trip from Eugene to LA so I’m hoping this will feel like a piece of cake. Especially once someone sees where we’re staying:

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For a whole $20 a night too (about double what we normally pay for a three-four bed room). Waters are supposed to be 80 degrees and the beaches are known for their surfing and other water sports. Can someone say Parasailing?

I realized I hadn’t posted a picture of Marco or Angel, our Spanish teachers that we spend 15+ hours a week with, so here they are (on their side of course).



Aaaand Angel:

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Since it’s 6 days until El Dia De Los Muertos, traditional holiday food is being sold/made everywhere. Today the preschool teacher, Juanita, brought in homemade guagua’s de pan (loaves of sweet bread frosted like babies in a blanket) and colada morada (a warm berry smoothie with cinnamon). Both were delicious.


As much as I enjoy the food here, there are some things I really REALLY miss. Like Cheez-its, donuts, and burritos. What I would give for a dang burrito. You can’t find them anywhere down here, and if you do, they’re nothing like the ones in the US. I have a feeling the small amount of weight I lost while here will come right back on just in time for the holidays 😉 Totally worth it.

The weeks seem to be going by faster and faster, which stinks. Of course, I can’t wait to come home and see everyone I’ve missed, BUT I really love it here and don’t want the experience to end. I just have to make sure to live in the moment as much as possible I suppose.

Okay, that’s it until I come back from the coast! Chao :)