An Expat Talks about Living in
Mar 23, 2015
An expat in Cuenca, Ecuador appreciates the beautiful environment and people. He advises newcomers to get learn Spanish and meet locals instead of socializing with other expats.
What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?
How long have you lived there?
What activities, clubs and organizations would you recommend to newcomers to help them meet others?
Avoid gringos at all costs - they are old and out of sorts. Half of them go home within a year. Learn Spanish as fast as you can. Immerse. Learn Ecuadorian culture and get with it. Meet Ecuadorians any way you can.
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In terms of religious, racial, economic and cultural diversity, are the people of this city or town diverse? Are they accepting of differences? Describe.
Race means nothing here. The quechua keep to themselves. The fact that I am a gringo only means the cab drivers will occasionally try to rip me off - classic gringo pricing. Fortunately, my wife is Ecuadorian, so that doesn't fly.
What are the main industries in this city? What types of career opportunities commonly exist? How do most people find new jobs?
Teaching English. It is very hard (as in impossible) to earn a living in Cuenca. Salaries are pathetic - maybe $750/month for a full-time gig. I teach English 10 hour/week for $10/hour. DO NOT COME TO ECUADOR if you need to work to pay your bills.
In general, what are peoples' priorities in this city? For example, do lives revolve around work, family, socializing, sports, etc.?
Family, church and family, in that order. You will never be a part of that. Get used to it.
If a friend of yours was thinking of moving to this city or town from far away, what other advice would you give them.
Bring comfortable shoes and get ready to live in a physically splendid environment. The people are gentle. Like any foreign culture, it is deceptively similar to America, but the little differences can sink you if you aren't totally flexible. Stay away from ex-pats, as a rule.
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