The Time of Our Lives | Lidia Alvarez
lidiaalvarez, June 8th, 2019
I came into this trip with a certain expectation of what the students on this trip were going to be like. I’d done the whole study abroad thing before, and was sure that this trip could not compare, I was wrong. This program has developed me so much as a person, and given me more than I ever thought possible. This trip has not only given me a deeper understanding of Latin American Markets, Hispanic Culture, South American Politics, but has given me friendships that will last a life time and clarity as I move into the future.
I went into Ecuador with no real expectations, and it turned out to be my favorite country. This country was rich in hidden gems. Every day was a new adventure pushing me out of my comfort zone. When we arrived to Quito the forecast for the week wasn’t looking too good, needless to say, we had to roll with whatever the day threw at us, and that was the fun part. We instantly started getting closer, from the inconsistency.
The worst part was the Latin American timing, or how Dr. A calls it “Brazilian time”. Every time we ate out in Ecuador we had to block out two and half hours, because it took them FOREVER to bring out our food. Our group discussed this and agreed that the biggest difference was customer service in the food industry. Restaurants in Ecuador pay their employees salary and don’t give them an incentive system like tip, to work more efficiently.
My favorite corporate visit in Ecuador was Galapagos Flowers, because of the deep insight into their manufacturing process. The company produces 8% of the world’s roses in Ecuador, and when you think about how small Ecuador really is, it becomes an astonishing number. The rose farming business has to be one of the hardest in the world. All of their logistics, customer orders, and production is based on estimates taken by the logistics supervisor. The environment has to be perfect in order for their business to flourish. Galapagos Flowers has developed an intricate system measuring moisture in the soil, the watering of the plants, temperature, fertilizer amount, and other important factors.
Even though they’ve progressed significantly in technological advancement, everything is still unknown. The way they can keep track of inventory and their quota, is by performance evaluation. This is done by assigning laborers to a specific area, checking on them, looking at their production values and giving them an incentive to do their job right.
My favorite part of the company is that their leading concern was the welfare of their employees and the sustainability of the products they use in production to harvest their crop. While we were in Ecuador I didn’t really see any real concern with their role in pollution and plastics, and the fact that a company exporting their product internationally primary concern is sustainability is really cool.
The country of Peru was a whole different ball game, no longer were we taking our time. Everything seemed so fast paced and it honestly felt like the whole week flashed before my eyes. This was also when our group turned from “students on a trip together” to family. My favorite part was climbing Machu Picchu, we were all striving to get to the top and when we finally did it was the most rewarding. The most unforgettable part of the trip was the view. It was safe to say that we weren’t in College Station anymore y’all!
My favorite official visit was the lecture in Universidad de Lima in Peru. The content really pertained to our future in the business world, and the where the United States and Peru really stand globally when comparing GDP and labor productivity. He explained our advantage as Americans when doing business because of our currency is accepted internationally.
One of my biggest takeaways was my ability to use my Spanish and create a deeper connection to the Latin American culture. Even though my family speaks Spanish regularly, I don’t use it enough when it comes to school and my career. Having to communicate with the students and professors at Universidad de San Francisco- Quito and Universidad de Lima in a professional way sharpened my Spanish.
When we are attending to our daily lives, I feel like we are so worried and affected by our responsibilities and pleasing others, that we don’t take time out of our day to get to know others. In Peru, I really felt like I was living the most basic form of life, and I could not stop smiling. I realized that we are all more similar than we are different. My heart was thriving getting to know every individual on the trip. I have never met such wholesome individuals, who deserve the most out of life.
Thank you to all of the people for the constant laughter and for everything all of you have taught me. Not only do I consider y’all best friends, but also family. Before this trip, I was okay with the idea of graduating early. All of y’all have made leaving College Station in the fall the hardest thing ever.
To Dr. A: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to study abroad under your program one last time. Thank you for always going above and beyond for our group and keeping us on our toes. This trip has made my last year at Texas A&M so special and one that I will never forget.
This was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I can truly say I enjoyed every second of it. Everything came to an end too fast and my only regret is not meeting all of you earlier.
Don’t close your eyes, you might miss out on something special.