Down south and down under

Ashley Dowart (’09)

I traveled to Spain in high school and said if I ever studied abroad, I’d go back. But plans change.

An Ecuadorian exchange student at NWU sparked an interest in South America. After one conversation with Inger Bull (director of international education), I packed my bags for Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Cumbayá, Ecuador.

There, I:

  • Melted the soles of my boots climbing a volcano
  • Zip-lined in the Amazon rainforest
  • Scuba dived with hammerhead sharks
  • Witnessed blue-footed boobies’ mating dance in the Galapagos
  • Taught English to kindergarteners
  • Ate coconut grubs, charred bats, and cuy
  • Sprinted away from spiders as big as dinner plates
  • Prayed that many bus rides wouldn’t be my last
  • Saw wild llamas in the Andes
  • Learned another language.

I also spent a month in Australia. My church sponsored me at 2008 World Youth Day. I prayed a multi-language rosary, held Eucharistic Adoration with Mother Teresa’s Sisters, attended Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI and lived with a host family in Brisbane.

I learned that koala bears stink, dingo pups are very soft, kangaroos are fun to feed, I don’t like vegemite on toast, and some days just aren’t good for whale watching.