Oops, I guess I couldn’t stay in the US for too long.
That’s right, two weeks after I returned home from Italy/Denmark/Hungary/Croatia/England, I was back off again — this time, to an entirely different continent that I had never been to before.
In addition to being my first time in Quito and in Ecuador, this was also my first time in South America altogether. You’d think being the closest continent to my own (North America), I would have been there before, but it’s not a super common destination for American tourists. Maybe that’ll change in the future?
So why was I in Quito? It’s kind of a long story. The short answer: I won an essay contest.
The long answer: one day, I received a mysterious email from Notre Dame International inviting me (and the rest of the undergraduate student body) to apply for what could perhaps best be described as an “academic pilgrimage” to the Galápagos Islands be led by two professors from the Chemistry Department in the College of Science. The goal of the trip was described broadly as to “trace the steps that Charles Darwin took on his path to discovery,” and in the process, perhaps gain a deeper appreciation for how discovery — in any field of study — occurs. That’s how I interpreted it in my application essay, at least.
I never thought I’d get in — I’m studying history and international relations, and I haven’t studied evolutionary biology since high school. I technically took some science classes my freshman year at Notre Dame, but they weren’t really that rigorous. I’m not even studying the history of science. I definitely haven’t studied anything chemistry-related that I could’ve used to impress the Chemistry professors leading the trip.
I guess my essay comparing the studies of human history and natural history impressed them though, because somehow, I got in. Or maybe it wasn’t the essay — maybe it was the outfit I wore to the interview. It was rather cute. You can actually check out the blog post from the day that I interviewed for the spot here.
Before heading to the Galápagos, our cohort of six stopped for a day in Quito, Ecuador.