author avatar

Elizabeth Ollila


Capstone Reflection

June 6, 2018

I know you are probably wondering what on earth I could still have left to say in one of these blog post after I’ve been home for well over a month. However, Global Citizen Year requires us to do a capstone project–to share our story back home somehow. I chose to share mine by going...

Read More

The End — Even Though it Never Really Ends

April 29, 2018

  I’m home—kinda. I am back to the place that I missed so much, but somehow it is not the same when part of my heart is in Ecuador and Sweden and Chicago and California, etc (the homes of all my friends). I am so happy to be back, but so sad to be gone....

Read More

I Don’t Know How to Say Goodbye

April 3, 2018

And now I’m here–in a place I have only dreamed of often wondered if it would actually arrive. I have 1 day left with my host family. After 193 days with these incredible people, and after making the town of Girón my home, it will all come to an end. When I first sat down...

Read More

How do I come home?

February 28, 2018

Why am I here? Why did I voluntarily put myself in the most uncomfortable situation I have ever been in? Why did I decide to make my biggest fear of college—homesickness—even bigger by going further and for longer? Why did I decide to take a year that depended on my worst subject in school—Spanish? Why...

Read More

Have I Changed?

January 7, 2018

A quick snapshot of me right now: I am sitting in a crowded bus next to an old Ecuadorian man who sells fruit by hopping from one bus to the next hoping its riders are hungry. I'm on my way home from the city two hours from my town. It has been 3 days since...

Read More

Christmas in Ecuador

December 30, 2017

After about two months of multiple parties every week, my family announced to me that we were about to head into “party season.” I was shocked and confused because what the hell had we been in before?? But also I was ready for it, and, I’ve got to say, Ecuadorians do not disappoint. I loveeeeeee...

Read More

Bottling Up the Small Moments

December 11, 2017

  As my half point approaches (SATURDAY!!) I can’t help but have this sudden feeling that I’m not soaking up every moment the way that I should. I have this intense desire to be able to bottle up everything that I’m experiencing so that I can have it forever. I’ve started making lists of things...

Read More

Just So Dang Grateful

November 26, 2017

Right now I am sitting in my living room watching my host dad make a nativity scene out of recycled boxes and my host mom string tinsel on the tree that they just cut from outside. Yesterday, my family celebrated Thanksgiving with me. They gave me a day to invite a friend and make the...

Read More

The excitement is wearing off

November 11, 2017

The excitement is wearing off, and Ecuador has become my new normal. I am no longer new at work, I have begun to get annoyed at my family here (just like you do with your family:)), I know our routine, bus rides to class are less scary (although I doubt I will ever be fully...

Read More

This week, I survived

October 23, 2017

Global Citizen Year constantly talks about the concepts of thriving and surviving, and how the goal is to thrive this year (with some times of surviving intermixed). In order to give you all a full view of my year abroad, it is only fair that I include some surviving intermixed with the thriving. This week,...

Read More

Dear Lala

October 5, 2017

A month before I left on my Ecuador adventure, my incredible grandma Frances LaFontaine (Lala) passed away pretty unexpectedly. I cannot help but think of her daily, so I wrote her a letter that I wanted to share.   An open letter to my Lala, I miss you and your beautiful soul more than you...

Read More

Who knew…

September 26, 2017

Who knew it was rude not to hug everyone in the room every time you came and left? Turns out I’ve left bad impressions more times than I can count. However, now I know, and I’ve come to love the way Ecuadorians tell you they love you with a cheek kiss at every hello and...

Read More

Soaking Up the Unknown

September 15, 2017

I have always been baffled at how you can only live an experience once, and after that it will never again be the unknown. This concepts daunts me as I live in a many times described “experience of a lifetime” because half of me knows that I must soak up every. single. second. while the...

Read More

Making Memories

September 4, 2017

I left my comfort and home about a week and a half ago, and since then my life has been a whirlwind in California (at Stanford) while we have had “pre-departure training.” I just wanted to share with you all some of the things that have gone “wrong” in the last 2 days, and I...

Read More

No Turning Back

August 14, 2017

If you had told me a year ago that I would be leaving to live in Ecuador in less than two weeks instead of going college I would have probably laughed. Not because I was shocked or disappointed, but because I never thought that I would actually have the guts to take a year to...

Read More