Written by Natalie K., a Gap Program Volunteer in Cuenca, Ecuador
Life here feels natural, I am comfortably settled into my routine, my internship and my family. When I walk around the city, I no longer feel like a clueless gringa, I feel I know my place and purpose here. I obviously still have moments where I feel out of place and have no idea what is going on and am sure that will be the case throughout my whole stay here, but overall, I feel at home.
I have never been so hungry to learn and take in new information. I learn something new everyday, whether it is about myself or the world around me. The only time I ever struggle with anxiety is when I think about going home, which is ridiculous because I still have 7 months here. The reason for this is because I am challenged here every single day.
Being here has made me realize that I never want to live a life where I am not being pushed outside my comfort zone and truly challenged.
I have gained so much respect and confidence in myself and work skills due to my internship. I work at a safe house for women and children who are escaping abusive homes. Though it is one of the most challenging things I have ever done, I could not imagine doing anything else right now. This job takes an insane amount of patience and understanding, which luckily, I have. There are definitely times where I feel overwhelmed. I have never had so much responsibility, it can be exhausting but after I get through the day, I feel that I can conquer just about anything. The relationships I have formed with the mothers, children, my family, and the AMIGOS volunteers are some of the most authentic relationships I have ever experienced.