Travel to Panama & Orientation

Hello from Panama! The GLCM students had a very early start to the day as our flight left at 5 am this morning. We started off the morning strong, getting to the airport as early as 3 am to begin the trip. Despite being a little tired, we made sure to continue our tradition of taking a photo in front of O’Hare’s Block I to represent the University of Illinois. 

Our first flight took us to Miami, where we had a VERY quick layover. We had less than 45 minutes once the plane landed to get to our terminal that was over half a mile away, but fortunately we made it in the knick of time! After finally landing in Panama around 1:15 pm, we went through the typical customs procedures. Wewere then finally able to meet up with our Quality Leadership University (QLU) counterparts! Luis Alejandro Arauz was kind enough to wait for us at the airport. Our driver, Melvis, transported all 16 of us and our luggage to the hotel where we are staying for the next 10 days. 

When we got to the hotel, we had some time to unwind and get our things settled. That afternoon, we then met up in the hotel lobby for orientation and to meet the rest of the Quality Leadership University’s staff. The orientation was led by the President of QLU, Oscar Leon, and Maria Quintero, another staff member from QLU. During orientation, we walked through the itinerary for the next 10 days. QLU did a great job of packing in as many fun activities and learning opportunities as possible! Additionally, we used this time to go over safety protocol and to exchange contact information. They even provided us with some fun suggestions of how to spend our free time in Panama. The university has already been so welcoming to us and we cannot wait to meet more people from the school throughout the week! 

Once orientation was over, we spent a little more time bonding with the QLU staff before parting ways. We were all exhausted after a long day of travel, but we all unanimously agreed that we needed to end the night exploring Panama. The GLCM students and staff then decided to go out for a group dinner only a block away from our hotel to try some Panamanian food and spend some quality time together. The restaurant was called Oldie’s Bar & Restaurant and had a variety of different food and drinks to try.

Around 9 pm, exhaustion began to kick in and we decided to call it a night. We all went to bed early in hopes of being well rested for our first full day tomorrow.

Blog by Sophia Soltwedel