Gone are the days of daily siestas and tiny matches.

You’ve left Ecuador – now what?

Just like entering a new culture is tricky business, so is leaving it.

Called re-entry, this process gives you a new perspective on everything once familiar in your life at home. 

The following culture shock moments come from an El Nomad intern’s current experience re-entering into the United States after spending many months immersed in Ecuadorian culture.

No matter where you re-entered from, you most likely have had relatable reactions. If you haven't spent time abroad, these moments give an interesting look into Ecuadorian culture.


1.     When you go to use the stove top and automatically look for the matches

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Manual gas stoves are the norm in Ecuador. The first couple times you need to use the stove, you find yourself looking for a match to light it – derp!

You begin to realize how much more convenient things are in the states. While you appreciate how much faster the water gets hot, you feel slightly nostalgic for the extra steps needed in Ecuadorian life.


2.     When you find the matches, and for the first time in your life realize how unnecessarily massive they are.

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You remember seeing the tiny match boxes in Ecuador, and thinking how cute they were.

It’s not until you’re back in the states you realize Ecuador is onto something – why have large matches when you only need 3 seconds of fire? It just makes so much sense!


3.     All those moments someone hears you utter words they don’t understand – like "achachay!"

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C’mon, people, don’t you know achachay is a quichua phrase uttered when it’s cold outside?!

It takes you awhile to re-adjust to no longer being in a Spanish-speaking country. You find yourself thinking things in Spanish, getting excited when you hear it, and musing over how much easier it is to be in your native country  – though definitely not as interesting.


4.     The outrage you feel when you see the cheapest thing on the lunch menu is $9

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Oh, Ecuador, how I miss you and your $2 plate of the day lunch specials. It takes a while to readjust to U.S. prices, especially when both countries use the same currency.


5.     When 1 pm rolls around and it’s not as socially acceptable to take a nap every day

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Aaahhhh, the siesta. Why, again, did you ever choose to leave a country where written into the culture code is a daily nap?!


6.     The joy you feel when the weather app on your phone becomes relevant again

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Gone are the days when it says there’s a 10% chance of rain while it’s down-pouring and a constant 50% chance of rain, no matter what.

While re-entering into your home community isn’t the easiest, it gives interesting reflections on what was once familiar.

Maybe you should start a tiny match-making business, or start a campaign for daily siestas during the business day. Regardless, it will absolutely remind you how much your experience in another culture has given you new perspectives.

Want to do something meaningful this Spring Break?

Be a part of our upcoming sustainable service learning program and build a zero-waste farm for at-risk kids in Ecuador. 

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