Ecuador: Living Life Through A Fresh Perspective Past Review

By (Journalism/Design, Ohio University) for

CEDEI: Cuenca - Semester in the Andes

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I got new worldly perspectives on how to act and react while abroad and now have a greater appreciation for other cultures, particularly the traditional indigenous folks.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The workload wasn't too excessive but manageable, particularly with all the traveling done to learn more about the country. The teaching styles per teacher varied across the board, so that added nice variety as well. Classes weren't always focused on just worksheets and exercises, but discussions to explain topics and practicing speaking. Having professors who were locals was nice not only to practice hearing their accent, but they had great insight on local history or stories that helped my peers and I to adapt to our new home.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

CEDEI was thorough and addressed all my concerns for health, safety, living arrangements and education. They were quick to react in problems of crisis and always helpful, particularly when I was sick and when I had a family emergency requiring me to call my family in America. I think they knew how to structure their program well, but I'm not sure they were very familiar with American higher education. However, what they do works very well - I liked the way the classes were structured and the amount of travel they coordinated for us was amazing!

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived about 15 to 20 minutes from CEDEI but the walk was not bad at all, rather enjoyable actually. CEDEI's staff matched me perfectly with my family - I still miss them everyday! I had an incredible time with them and they definitely formed a special part of my study abroad.

* Food:

I'm a vegetarian, but I had no trouble finding vegetarian food (except for when I travelled to the coast). Right near CEDEI there is a great Hari Krishna place that is very affordable and filling. Several hostels around the corner are equally great for lunch, and La Viña down the street is a can't miss. There's always Tutto Freddo for ice cream and dessert too! But CEDEI's location is so central it's easy to wander around and find a good bite to eat.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

We did an incredible arrangement of travel that goes across the country - CEDEI finds the best hikes, hostels, cultural experiences with indigenous people, and most interesting places to stay.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Don't walk alone late at night. Don't put yourself in locations or situations that have no way out - be wary of the dangerous spots in town (like the hood or whatever) and just listen to what your family teachers or coordinator tells you. Always take a cab!

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)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Varied, on travel weeks maybe 20 to 30$ but otherwise not much - I would eat at home where I didn't have to pay.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Be wary of what you buy - a lot of stuff is the same thing over and over so just because you go to the coast and see the same thing as in Cuenca, don't buy it so you can travel lighter.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? I took the first series of a 300 level junior speaking/composition class.
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

Our coordinator was always willing to practice with us, and everyone throughout the office was always greeting me smiling and ready to engage in conversation. Our entire program was focused on improving our Spanish, so using it everyday was vital and my studies at CEDEI really helped me to advance my speaking level.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Hostel
  • Hotel
  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Cuenca (where it is in Ecuador and what's inside)
  • Local teachers
  • Amount of travel involved
* What could be improved?
  • Some work on the inside of the building
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Do it. If you enjoy being outside, adventuring around and like a city that is very walkable and has hidden treasures all over it, Cuenca is for you. Rich history, awesome food, great people (easier to understand because they talk slower too), but overall awesome location/place/experience.