Curious Cuenca Jeff Schinsky

Reinventing Yourself in Cuenca with Jeff Schinsky – Curious Cuenca Video Podcast EP1

Welcome to our first episode of the Curious Cuenca video podcast. In this podcast series, we interview interesting people from various walks of life who live in Cuenca, Ecuador. Guests include new and old expats, businesses, interesting locals, and Cuenca-based nonprofit organizations.

We also allow you to donate to these non-profit organizations through our site here

Our first guest is Jeff Schinsky. Jeff has written numerous detailed articles for YapaTree, including So Now You’re An Expat: Time To Reinvent Yourself! I really enjoyed this article so I invited Jeff for a chat to kickstart the podcast series. 

Living abroad as an expatriate can be both exhilarating and challenging, especially for retirees seeking a new chapter in life. Jeff’s journey in Ecuador serves as a compelling narrative of resilience, community support, and personal growth amidst the backdrop of cultural immersion and adaptation. In this article, we delve into Jeff’s experiences, reflections, and valuable insights gleaned from his decade-long tenure in Cuenca, Ecuador.

The Journey to Cuenca

Jeff’s story begins over a decade ago when he made the life-changing decision to move to Cuenca. Drawn by the city’s affordability and sense of adventure, Jeff saw an opportunity for a fresh start. He recalls being inspired by an episode of House Hunters International featuring Cuenca’s attractive cost of living, prompting him to make the leap from his hometown in Denver, USA.

Upon arrival, Jeff made a point to immerse himself in the local culture, embracing the challenges and opportunities that came with living abroad. Despite initial hurdles and the inevitable adjustments of settling into a new country, Jeff found himself captivated by the vibrant community and endless possibilities for personal growth.

Embracing Change and Community

As Jeff settled into life in Cuenca, he started a process of continual learning and transformation. From a self-described introvert to an active participant in community events and cultural activities, Jeff’s journey reflects the power of embracing change. Through his involvement in various organizations and language-learning endeavors, Jeff discovered a newfound sense of purpose and belonging in Cuenca.

Jeff emphasizes the importance of community in his journey, highlighting the warmth and hospitality of the Ecuadorian people. By forging connections with locals and fellow expats alike, Jeff cultivated a support network that enriched his experience and facilitated his integration into Cuenca’s vibrant tapestry of life.

Contributions to the Expat Community

As Jeff’s journey unfolded, he recognized the need for a platform to connect and support expats navigating life in Cuenca. Thus, “Expats Without Agendas” was born—a Facebook group dedicated to providing resources, advice, and camaraderie to expats from around the world.

Through his role as a group administrator, Jeff has witnessed the evolution of Cuenca’s expat community firsthand. Despite the challenges of moderating online forums and dispelling misinformation, Jeff remains committed to fostering a sense of belonging and solidarity among expats in Cuenca.

Navigating the Rental Market

Drawing from his experiences as a rental agent, Jeff offers valuable advice to newcomers on choosing the right neighborhood, avoiding hidden noise issues, negotiating rental agreements, and managing expectations in a competitive market. His insights shed light on the complexities of renting in Cuenca while empowering expats to make informed decisions about their living arrangements.

Overcoming Health Challenges

Throughout his journey in Cuenca, Jeff has faced his share of health challenges, from battling COVID-19 to navigating the healthcare system as an expat. Despite these setbacks, Jeff remains resilient, sharing his experiences openly to raise awareness and support others facing similar obstacles.

With a commitment to proactive health management and community advocacy, Jeff underscores the importance of prioritizing well-being in the expat experience. His story serves as a testament to the strength and resilience of expats in Cuenca, inspiring others to take charge of their health and embrace the journey of self-reinvention.

Family and Community Support

The unwavering support of Jeff’s family and the expat community during challenging times was very important to him. Amidst health issues, his wife’s steadfast presence during hospital visits and the generosity of local expats underscore the importance of building a support network in a foreign land. Jeff’s experience highlights the vital role of community bonds in navigating the highs and lows of expat life, especially for retirees far from their homeland.

Integration and Language Learning

One of the pivotal aspects of Jeff’s journey is his emphasis on learning Spanish for effective integration into Ecuadorian culture. Through anecdotes of everyday interactions and emergencies, Jeff illustrates the practical necessity and cultural significance of language skills. His advice underscores the importance of embracing the local language to fully immerse oneself in the fabric of Ecuadorian life and foster deeper connections within the community.

Adapting Hobbies and Lifestyle

Jeff’s adaptability shines through as he explores new hobbies and experiences in Ecuador. From cultivating bonsai trees to joining local bands and starting a drum circle, Jeff’s journey epitomizes the spirit of curiosity and exploration that defines expat life. Through these endeavors, he not only embraces Ecuadorian culture but also finds avenues for personal expression and fulfillment, showcasing the transformative power of pursuing passions in a new environment.

Resilience and Overcoming Challenges

Despite facing health challenges and occasional doubts, Jeff’s resilience and optimism remain unwavering. His willingness to learn new skills, such as playing musical instruments, reflects a growth mindset and a determination to embrace life’s opportunities fully. Through perseverance and a positive outlook, Jeff exemplifies the resilience required to navigate the complexities of expat life and thrive amidst adversity.

Reflections on Ecuadorian Life

Jeff’s reflections offer a nuanced perspective on the evolving nature of Ecuadorian society. While acknowledging changes in safety perceptions and societal dynamics, he maintains a deep appreciation for the country’s natural beauty, cultural richness, and the warmth of its people. Jeff’s journey underscores the importance of embracing change while staying rooted in gratitude and optimism for the experiences Ecuador has to offer.

Advice for Prospective Expats

As Jeff reflects on his expat journey, he offers valuable advice to prospective expats, urging them to seize opportunities and embrace retirement early. His story serves as a testament to the transformative potential of expat life, emphasizing the importance of resilience, community, and a willingness to embrace new experiences. Through Jeff’s lens, aspiring expats gain insights into the rewards and challenges of living abroad, inspiring them to embark on their own journey of discovery and growth.

Wrapping Up

Jeff’s journey in Ecuador is an interesting and fulfilling one. A tapestry woven with resilience, community, and personal growth. We hope that you can use his experiences as inspiration for your own transformative journey throughout your time in Cuenca.

We’d love to hear about your journey in the comments. And, please do consider donating to Cuenca’s non-profits

We’ll see you in the next episode of Curious Cuenca. 

Further reading:

View full video transcript

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