Sam Disston: Santiago

Disston launches into his Latin-American adventure in Ecuador.

Some of you may know me, but most of you will not.  My name is Sam Disston.  I’m a pretty outgoing guy and I do well in school.  I’d like to think I’m a pretty normal college student, though I don’t drink quite as much as most. I have been known to have fun every once and a while.

I am writing from my room in Ecuador.  I am here with a host family participating in a pre-program for SU Abroad Chile, with about 16 other students, most from SU but others from schools such as UC Boulder and Rhodes College.  After a month of perfecting my Spanish here in Ecuador, I move on to Santiago, Chile for the semester.  This program runs longer than most other abroad programs. We focus on fully immersing ourselves in the culture.  

We arrived in the capital Quito about two weeks ago, where we spent a few days before heading to Otavalo, a small, indigenous town (where you definitely get the sense you’re not in Kansas anymore).  Currently we are in Cuenca, where we will spend most our time.  Cuenca is a city of about 500,000 people, but I see familiar faces every day, and people are generally very nice and helpful.

Friends studying in places that use the Euro or the Pound are probably going to hate me when I say this, but the difference I notice most, besides everyone speaking Spanish, is how cheap everything is.  Lunch or dinner generally cost less than $3. 

By the way, Ecuador uses the US dollar. A while back, their currency suffered serious inflation, so they had to switch to the US dollar to save themselves.  An interesting fact: they do not have the power to print US currency, in fact, I don’t think they have any special deal with the US.  I don’t know exactly how this system works but I’ll try to figure it out and let you know.

It’s hard to describe my entire time so far in one post, but I will make sure to update whenever I can.  I say “whenever I can” because Internet access here is more of a privilege than a right.  There are internet café’s everywhere, and my school has internet, but if you remember using 56k dial-up connection, you’ll understand my situation.  It’s kind of nice to be disconnected for a while, but I just want to throw my laptop through the window when it won’t even load

So for now, this is Sam reporting from Cuenca, Ecuador; hasta luego.

Since writing this post, Disston survived the massive earthquake in Chile. Read his reaction here. Disston is a junior psychology and spanish major. Visit his personal blog at

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