My summer in Ecuador: A new family, new friends, a new home Past Review

By (Speech-Language Pathology, Spanish, Augustana College) for

CEDEI: Cuenca - Semester in the Andes

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Studying abroad is arguably one of the most valuable educational experiences a student can have during their college experience. This has reinforced my desire to be bilingual, and hope to return to a Spanish-speaking country soon to further improve my language skills. I also want to return and see all the wonderful people I met that summer!

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.

Overall, I really enjoyed the classes I took at CEDEI. However, I feel that at times the workload should have been a little lighter. Since I was studying abroad in the summer, I think less rigorous classes would have been appropriate without sacrificing our educational experience. Most importantly, I felt that I was learning constantly, in and out of the classroom. I would have liked to have less homework at times so I could spend more time with my host family. These experiences, to me, were just as valuable, and I did not like having to turn opportunities down to do homework, which is something I do all the time at school in the States.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Overall, CEDEI does an excellent job. I felt very well-informed going into the trip, and formed a lot of great relationships with the CEDEI staff during the summer. I know I was at CEDEI during a less busy time of the year, and really enjoyed that. Had there been more students at the school, I think I would have been a little overwhelmed.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I have nothing but positive things to say about my host family. I was placed in a wonderful home, and I become very close with my family, particularly my host mother. I felt very safe walking to and from school each day, and my house was about a 15-minute walk, which was a great distance. At night I would use a taxi rather than walk by myself, which was also easy to use. I was treated with respect in my house, and felt comfortable living there. By the end of the summer I really felt as though I had become a member of the family instead of just a guest.

* Food:

Food was never a problem, I was just hesitant at times because I wasn't sure how my stomach was going to react. My host family always provided me with three meals a day, and asked me about food preferences to make sure I felt okay.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I loved all of our weekend excursions, but would have appreciated a few more free days towards the end of the trip. It is better to have weekends scheduled for us at the beginning of the summer because the structure helps us adjust and makes sure we are staying active. By the end of the summer I had formed some great relationships and would have loved more time to spend with these people. Also, maybe CEDEI can distribute a 'things to do' sheet to students so they have a better idea of what the city has to offer. This could include visiting Baños, going to a fútbol game, exploring museums, etc.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I did go to the doctor once, and it was very easy. I had my prescription later that day and was able to communicate with the doctor easily. Our group did not have any major safety incidents, but I did rely a lot on the safety notes given to us at the beginning of the summer.

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?

My Spanish did improve a great deal, but I feel like I could have done even more. I enjoyed only communicating in Spanish with my host family and in classes, but with out group, we were generally speaking in English. People were in varying stages of their language progress, so English was just easier. Our Coordinator spoke to us in mostly English, which also reinforced using English more often.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

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

Select all that apply

  • Host Family

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • I loved staying with a host family, and constantly being exposed to different elements of the country.
* What could be improved?
  • Better communication answering questions before the trip, less demanding outside-of-class assignments, and more free days towards the end of the trip.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Know that at the beginning of the experience, it's okay to not be okay. I expected to be adjusted and happy right away, and really struggled the first few weeks. Once I gave myself time to settle into a routine, Cuenca became my home. Just take every opportunity presented to you and soak everything up!