Cuenca- A Real Look at Life in Ecuador Past Review

By (International Affairs, Wagner College) for

CEDEI: Cuenca - Semester in the Andes

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
The experience has shaped my life and view of life in South America dramatically. I desire to travel extensively in South America and have a new understanding of Latin America and culture of this continent. The experience was 5 stars because it made me realize how much more there is to see.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The classes were small and very personalized. The best part about classes was that they were of less than 5 people and very individualized. The teachers are very nice and helpful and care about each student's learning experience. The classes were easier than classes at my home university, but the workload was balanced by living and learning within a foreign culture and practicing language skills outside of the classroom.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The CEDEI was very helpful to the students whether it pertained to living situations, class choices, health concerns or whatever other issue may have occured. The office doors to the coordinators were always open and every employee of the CEDEI was always very friendly.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Myself and almost all other students on my trip lived very well with their families and felt welcomed as a part of that family. They always made sure that we were safe and well informed of life in Cuenca and that we were happy with life there. I always felt like a member of the family and I went anywhere where the family travelled if I wanted to attend with them.

* Food:

My host family complied with all of the dietary needs and made sure that I was fed and satisfied with the type of food that they served. Outside of the house, the streets of Cuenca are full of cheap and delicious foods to be bought in the markets and restuarants.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Perhaps the best part of the trip were the amount and quality of cultural trips that my group attended. My travelled to the jungle, to the other major cities in Ecuador, on day trips around Cuenca, to the Galapagos and to Machu Pichu. Not only did the CEDEI provide these trips to the students, but they also helped us plan our own trips to the countryside when we had free time.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I had to visit the doctor one time while I was living in Cuenca, and I was aided by a program coordinator and felt very safe and cared for. The safety in the city is explained to you very well by the school and the host family, but being a foreigner in a city, you always need to be aware and prepared. That being said, I never had any problems and felt safe taking cabs and going to classes and out during the night whenever I wished.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

We had many oppurtunities to practice speaking Spanish in Cuenca because of the small size of the city and welcoming attitudes of the locals. Also by living with a family and travelling to the country for many trips hepled to introduce us to more parts of the culture.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • the connection to Cuenca itself
  • the feeling of family in the CEDEI
  • the cultural exercursions
* What could be improved?
  • making classes more challenging
  • speaking spanish with the students more
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I would tell students to be open and take in all of the trips that the CEDEI offers in the programs. I would say that any student who is really looking for an authentic experience in another country and language immmersion would be perfect for this program.