A reflection on friendships made in Ecuador by Emma Johnson
Just four weeks in a foreign country is really all it took for me to make lifelong friends. That may sound ridiculously cheesy, but it’s the truth. Have you ever spent four weeks, 24 hours a day, 7 days week with the same 15 people? And I mean it when I say, 24 hours non-stop for 28 consecutive days. Well, unless it’s your family members, I don’t think you’ve experienced anything quite like that…and even at home, there are breaks for work, school and life.
One of the many close friends I made on this trip started the very first day on the plane! The first encounter I had with Lauren was at JFK airport on the morning of our flight to Ecuador. She was wearing a Cal sweatshirt (aka the University if California, Berkeley). So the first thing my mom asked, “Hi, where are you from?” Ha! Her response: “California,” as she pointed to her hoodie. In that moment, I thought to myself, well that’s just great, Mom, now this girl probably thinks I’m an idiot. Just my luck Lauren and I happened to be sitting next to each other on the two flights to Ecuador.
She quickly discovered that I’m no idiot, and I instantly knew we would be great friends. To this day we still laugh about that very moment. Lauren is a high school senior and I’m a junior. But, age was never an issue to anyone on this trip. We all got along great and the fact that some of us were 2-4 years apart didn’t stop any of us from becoming the best of friends.
Our homestay period was when Lauren and I really became close. We would have these long chats and reflect on the whole trip and how we loved it so much. Those chats made me so happy knowing that someone was there to listen and they didn’t have their phone in front of them as a distraction. During one of these chats, I remember telling Lauren that I don’t get emotional during goodbyes because I know it isn’t a real goodbye because we all will see each other again. She responded with, “Oh buddy, you’re going to cry when you say bye to me, I guarantee it.” Well, she was right. I sobbed when I had to say goodbye to not only her, but everyone at JFK when we arrived back home.
While we both live on different coasts, we manage to talk everyday and FaceTime weekly. We even plan on seeing each other in person sometime in the very near future! And although, I’ve only known Lauren for 6 months now, it feels as if I’ve known her since I was born. She gets me and vice versa. Every time we are together it was constant laughing and huge smiles on our faces. Lauren is also probably the funniest person I’ve met, besides myself, of course! No matter where we were in Ecuador every time Lauren was around, I, along with everyone in the group laughed a ridiculous amount. I think everyone can agree that she was an amazing addition to the group, and I can’t imagine the trip without her. And as she goes off to college next year, wherever that may be, I know that our friendship will only grow stronger.