Finding family support at home and in Ecuador

Elin Johnson, Staff writer

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Abby Gunning did not choose to study abroad in Ecuador. It was the only location available for Spanish minors to study. Now that she is in Ecuador, she loves it.

Gunning grew up in a small town in Washington and is studying nursing at Linfield.

“The study abroad program at Linfield was one of the reasons I chose to go to Linfield. It has such an amazing program and they really encourage studying abroad,” Gunning said.

She was grateful to be able to study abroad this semester because of how difficult it is for nursing students to go abroad.

In order to complete all of the requirements for nursing school on time, Gunning had to take 19 credits last semester. She did this while working at the circulation desk at Nicholson Library.

Despite the challenges, Gunning is positive that this experience will help her career. This is her first time studying abroad but she has traveled extensively in the past. Gunning’s father encouraged her to study abroad. He traveled abroad extensively himself after graduating high school and spoke highly of the experience.

“My family was completely supportive of my decision. They were a large part of the reason that I did it,” Gunning said.

Family has been important to Gunning while she has been abroad as well. She has been staying with a host family in Ecuador and said that the host mom in particular has been helpful.

“My host mom is such a blessing. She has been so accommodating and she really cares about me,” Gunning said.

“It’s different from living in a dorm because I had gotten used to living on my own, and now I’m living with a family again and so it was a little bit of a transition.”

She enjoyed the challenge of the many transitions from living in the United States to Ecuador. Since she is a picky eater, she was concerned about meals, especially since food is important in Latin cultures, but her host mom has been accommodating about this.

Gunning said she has not experienced culture shock while in Ecuador and thinks this is due to her having had traveled extensively prior to this study abroad.

Her favorite thing she has done so far while abroad was a snorkeling adventure in the Galapagos. She hopes to have improved her Spanish as an outcome of this semester.

“The people I’ve met have really helped make this experience better than great,” Gunning said.