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Locking in my plans for Ecuador!

It's almost time to leave for Quito! I'm very excited to be spending the summer back in Ecuador, in a new city I haven't been to before. There is lots to look forward to: possible trips to Lima, Cusco, and Machu Picchu, Peru; going back to visit old friends in Guayaquil, Ecuador; seeing the Mitad del Mundo monument outside of Quito that lies on the Equator; shopping at the well-known Otavalo market; and much more. Not to mention working on the Strengthening Ecuadorian Justice Project with the East-West Management Institute: my understanding is that I will be the first intern EWMI has taken on in several years, and that I will hopefully be the first in a line of W&M Law students to work on rule of law projects with the organization. There is always a very accomplished feeling that comes with being the first student and setting a great precedent in a partnership between William & Mary and an outside organization. It's even more fun to share lifestyle tips with students that follow in your footsteps.

But before I get ahead of myself daydreaming about weekend outings, there is so much business to take care of before I leave. This means both tying up loose ends in the States and making sure that I have all the necessary plans set in place for when my feet touch ground in Quito. This week has been full of hanging out with friends, completing work for the Environmental Law and Policy Review law journal, where I serve as a member of the executive board; packing, and making sure the paperwork is place for my job. But I've also been calling around to make sure my plane flights are in order, to make sure I have a hotel reservation in Quito to cover nights until I can find a room or apartment, and finding a safe way from the airport to the hotel (I'm not sure I trust their taxis yet). 

I enjoy setting up a life in a new city, and I'm looking forward to it: making new friends; finding places to eat, exercise, and go out; and forming new routines. One of the biggest questions I'm facing right now is what kind of living situation I'd like. Last year, in Cordoba, Argentina, I lived alone in a 1-bedroom apartment. Though I really appreciated the privacy, sometimes it made it too easy to stay in on the couch instead of getting out and seeing the city. I'm considering whether I want to try to live with a family, who can teach me how to cook Ecuadorian food and will force me to practice my Spanish, or whether I might want to live with other young folk who will provide instant companionship and know the best places in the city. But I believe things have a way of working out, so we'll see what falls into my lap.

It's time to get back to packing up my things, the next time I write to you I'll be in Quito!!

Catherine