CIMAS: a cultural and educational experience unmatched Past Review

By (Spanish minor, Western Washington University) for

Ecuador Study Abroad Reflections: Comprehensive Reviews of Past Programs

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I am a different person, I know what poverty looks like, and what it is like to live with an impoverished family, and in a major city in an 'undeveloped' country. My Spanish improved more in 10 weeks than it has over the last 4 years in university classes. I met, literally, the love of my life.

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.

some weeks there seemed to be no work, some weeks way too much, and there was little balance of work load between our Spanish class and the Local Development class. The teachers were amazing for the most part and the staff was very interested and made us feel at home, always.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

disorganization was the worst thing. The best was the amazing ideologies of the program and the thought put into how we would learn. The trips were all amazing experiences.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My neighborhood was safe, it was close to the school and a bus ride away from anything else I wanted, including the main area of night life. I spent more time at my boyfriends house than my own, a local who lived in an apartment. My family did not mind when I was gone for days on end.

* Food:

There is not really easy access to vegetarian food, especially in the cities... or really anywhere in Ecuador. The food there in general is delicious, filling, more or less healthy and with different options and traditional plates in the different counties and zones.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

We had indigenous religious ceremonies inside the CIMAS building, a city tour, three week long excursions which were amazing and required close interaction with different cultures, individuals, communities... it was amazing.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Pedestrians do not have the right away, especially with buses be careful. A friend/companion in my course had to get stitches in her head and everything went smoothly. The food didn't give my any problems but you do have to wash the veggies and generally don't drink the tap unless the people living in that specific house are.

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?

I practiced with my friends from the program sometimes, but mostly with my Ecuadorian friends, citizens and in Spanish class at CIMAS. Most people there do not know English, so yes I had to use it everyday and with everyone besides my friends from the US.

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 do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Learn to move with the flow of things, everything will not turn out how it was planned. It is a fairly radical program, if you're a die-hard capitalist you might not enjoy it much, but could definitely gain a ton from it.