The thing about Ecaudor culturally is this: nothing completely stood out to me as being extremely different when I first arrived. In some parts of the world, one would probably notice an immediate difference, but has taken me a week to think about the differences here. Below I will write about differences in categories.
Greetings: People greet each other with more than just a wave or “hey,” even if they know each other and happen to see each other for a second. For instance, I always greet all of my family members when I arrive at home. The most common greeting among men is a firm handshake and pat on the back. Among men and women. a kiss on the cheek is customary.
Navigating the city: Many more people take the bus in Ecuador than in the US. Everything is higher energy. For example, there is always a person on the bus between Quito and the suburbs who gets out at stops and yells where the bus is going. Tons of little vendors are present everywhere selling things or talking about various topics. They will come on the bus and make a pitch or approach you at the bus station. Buses can be extremely crowded. One day it was so crowded the door would barely close. Usually the bus to Cumbaya is less full, so i can get a seat. I like taking the window seat because of the view. On multiple occasions, young, well-dressed Ecuadorian women have chosen to sit next to me despite other open seats. I figure that it is because they think a foreigner probably won’t pickpocket them.
In the house: We have a maid who practically lives at the house. I don’t usually talk much to her. Often times her nephew, who must be only be around 10 years old, helps her with work, which is something that doesn’t really happen in the USA. The family always wants to serve me, which is in a way nice. I got a reaction when I brought my own dishes from the table to the sink on my first day. Today I asked for some water today after I ate because I was thirsty (Quito is dry and high). I had juice with my meal but wanted more to drink. When I asked my host grandmother for some water, I also got a strange reaction and then she brought me some more juice (which is fine because I really like the juice).
Interactions: People in Ecuador are for the most party helpful and friendly. However, they don’t seem as outgoing as a whole as Americans, with the exception of certain USFQ students. For instance, people don’t seem to be as interested in just meeting you or talking to you. Even one of my host sisters is very shy and won’t really talk to me unless I say something. It seems that friends of the opposite gender are less common or prominent. While it is more of a traditional culture, it doesn’t seem that women are “oppressed.”
Resources: Since Ecuador is a developing country, people aren’t as big of consumers. The best example I can think of is how when I needed to print something for one of my classes, my host sisters wanted me to print double sided and seemed a little bit disappointed that I didn’t (I usually do that at home but just didn’t get the printer to do it).