Eagerly Awaiting Ecuador


Hi there! My name is Rachel Kuo and I’m in my final semester at the University of Pittsburgh.  I am a dual major in Marketing and Human Resources Management in the Undergraduate Business School.  At Pitt, I am a second-year Resident Assistant for first-year residents living in the Business Living Learning community in Bruce Hall.  I also spent a year as Vice President of Marketing for Enactus, a social entrepreneurship organization here at Pitt that I have been involved with since my first semester at school.  In addition to being an RA and involved in campus organizations, I also work part time at a restaurant in Downtown Pittsburgh.  Although this doesn’t leave too much free time, I love to run and spend time with my family, (and our dogs!) when I get the chance.

Last summer, I studied abroad in Sydney, Australia through the Global Business Institute here at Pitt. I had an incredible time and grew both personally and professionally. Moving across the world and interning for a company is far from easy and was definitely a step outside of my comfort zone, but it was so worth it. So, when I heard about the opportunity to study abroad again, I jumped at the chance.

Ecuador, like Australia, will be a step outside of my comfort zone. However, I expect it to be challenging and fulfilling in different ways. First and foremost is the language barrier. I studied French throughout high school, so I don’t speak a word of Spanish. The culture in Ecuador is very different of that in the United States. Although I have done extensive research trying to soak up as much knowledge as possible about the country, I expect to be surprised daily by new and different things.

One of the things I’m most looking forward to on this trip is staying in the Field House. It will be a challenge not to have access to Wi-Fi and amenities that we are used to, but I am looking forward to it as an opportunity for growth. Not having my phone to depend on for Google Translate, to check the weather, or to talk to friends back home will allow me to be fully present in the moment, something I’m really looking forward to. It will be a unique opportunity to learn from locals what it is like to dig clay for pottery and to market the exports that keep their economy competitive. Like an experience abroad, I except this trip to be just as challenging as it will be rewarding. That being said, however, I am fully confident that I will return back to Pitt with a myriad of stories to tell and newfound love of Ecuador and the people who call it home.