Ecuador was always a place to visit for me since my family is from there, but it had been a very faint memory as far as the day-to-day life over there. I found the amazing to opportunity to study abroad AND complete my studies in Ecuador through the IES Abroad program. The staff was extremely helpful from the day I flew in to Quito until the sad day I had to say good-bye. Every single person in the IES Abroad Quito office was involved in my program and they were always so helpful and humble to myself and the other students. I had an advantage over the other students, being that I had already visited the country multiple times and being a Spanish speaker, but this didn't stop the staff and administration at IES from teaching me so much more about the country and the people that I hadn't known before. They made sure to give us a tour of Quito prior to classes starting where we learned how to catch the bus, giving us the play by play of all the routes and giving us a sense of direction in the city. Then, the staff accompanied us to Universidad San Francisco and made sure that we were all as comfortable as possible embarking on our first day of school, I felt like it was the first day of pre-school and I had the comfort of my parents there making sure everything was set up perfectly for me to start my year. Academically, the system at USFQ was something far from what I was used to in the states. Everybody, from the dean to the cooks and chefs from the kitchen had a mutual sense of respect toward each other, it was one where everything was "horizontal"; nobody was above anybody and everybody was more of a colleague or peer rather than seen as a boss or a superior. The professors, for that matter, were amazing. Not only did they try to throw all their knowledge on the student, they genuinely had an interest in the students learning and academic journey. Outside of school hours, IES had various trips planned, to the Amazon, the Darwinian islands of Galápagos, and many little towns and beautiful scenic places that will forever leave footprints in my life. The social life needs no mentioning in this country. Everybody is so friendly and welcoming and curious to befriend everyone else. Making friends was definitely NOT a problem in Ecuador, the culture itself allows for a great and spontaneous social life, even at lunch breaks during classes where we would walk across the street to grab some food and enjoy music or the soccer games! IES also offers an internship/service learning program which truly gives the opportunity to fully immerse oneself in the culture and roots through volunteerism. This gave me the amazing opportunity to indulge in something that will not only be beneficial to my future career but it put me smack dab in the middle of the cultural commotion. During my internship at a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation organization at the university, I met many professors, students, and activists that all worked so well together as a team and showed me the true meaning of solidarity. Not only that, being in that internship taught me a lot more than I could ever read up on: the amazing night biodiversity of the country, the deep sense of culture, the language (slang included), among other things. It gave the experience of being able to give back to a community that opened its arms to me and let me in its doors to feed me, shelter me, and show me what it had to offer. It was with a very heavy heart that I had to leave the country, but an ecuadorian saying stuck to me that can define the experience for me: Me fui a volver... And I will be back because Ecuador is all I need.