I can’t believe it’s already here, but then again this time of year always seems to sneak up on me: midterms. This past week I took 3 exams, and I have another one coming up next week. My professors are demanding term paper outlines, essays, and presentations – all of which are slightly overwhelming but offer a good reminder that my time here in Ecuador is passing all too quickly.

It’s kind of crazy when I really think about it … this isn’t vacation or a few weeks of traveling abroad. I live here. Yesterday a taxi driver asked me how long I’ve been in Quito, and I almost surprised myself when I responded “two months.” In some ways, the time is flying. I have seen the waterfalls in Cotacachi, purchased crafts in Otavalo, swam with sea lions in the Galapagos, lived on “la finca” in Guaranda, and am about to begin a trip to Bomboli to experience an off-grid community. In the next two months, I will be headed to the rainforests of Tena, the beaches of Canoa, and the historic sights of Cuenca. Sometime during all that exploring I am going to need to find a few hours to study for finals, complete term papers, and maybe even relax in Quito for a bit.

Even though my days here are always new and exciting – full of great experiences and challenges – I have recently found myself missing home more than usual. Maybe it’s just because I am approaching the halfway mark of my semester here, or maybe it’s simply because there are a lot of great things to miss at home. Here are a few of the things I would love to have in my life right now: JR and Natalie (I miss my amazing parents so much), the Chevy (it would seriously make life in this city way easier), the boy (can’t wait til June), First Baptist Church of Ellisville (and Dustin, of course), the fab five, Chuys (and Tex Mex in general), Dr. Pepper, SMU (the fountains, the professors, the pony pride … all of it), accounting classes (especially problem sets and cost accounting with “the good scholar”), visits to the Chi O house, Sonic dates, the English language (I love learning Spanish, but sometimes it gets frustrating), the barn (including all the dogs and cats), Sunday lunches with the Maces/Flowers/all those other incredible people, late night 7-Eleven trips with the alphach, Thursday afternoons at Dedman with a bunch of people who love Jesus, Daniel House (specifically those two incredible women who I was so blessed to live with last semester), country music on the radio, Castlewood park with Squeaky, horses (I would give just about anything to be traveling around to team ropings this weekend with the parents), and roadtrips with lots of Stephen Kellogg music.

While composing that list, however, I started to realize that “home” is not quite as clear as it used to be. For me, home now includes both St. Louis and Dallas – as well as people from all over the planet. I hope that at the end of May I will be able to add Quito to that list … I want to look back on this city as one of the places that changed me and made me a better person. So, as much as I might be missing home right now, I bet I miss Ecuador just as much in the following year. Home isn’t really a certain country or address; it’s just the place where people love you and care about you. To people in all my different homes, I love you dearly and miss you like crazy. Can’t wait to return to all of you and tell you about my amazing days on the Equator.