Cheap and Mystical July 20, 2018

By (Trinity University) - abroad from 08/15/2017 to 12/21/2017 with

IES Abroad: Quito - IES Abroad in Quito

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Yes it was very worth while. I grew a lot as a person in terms of confidence and cultural awareness. My Spanish also improved a lot.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

All of my courses were direct enrollment at the local university (Universidad San Francisco de Quito). It is a liberal arts university which is really rare for Latin America, but makes the transition pretty painless for gringos. All of my classes were taught by knowledgeable professors who were always available for office hours etc.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I was not impressed with the IES office in Quito. Everyone working in the administrative was really nice, but were not very on top of things. People in my program doing all of their classes through the IES office and not direct enrollment had many more problems than I did. There just wasn't a lot of interaction with the office and any time I did have a question I had to do almost all of the work. For example, I had to get an extension on my tourist visa in order to complete my program and I had to do basically all the work to get that taken care of even though I was told by IES before entering Ecuador that it wouldn't be a problem and the local team would take care of everything.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I was placed with a really great family upon arrival. However, they lived far away from the university and from Quito. On average, it would take me an hour to an hour and a half to get to school in the morning because the bus was so unpredictable and almost never passed by the bus stop near my house. The other students in the program either walked to school (5-10 minutes) or took the bus (5-20 minutes). There was also nothing to do around my house - no stores, no markets, no plazas, etc. The lighting on the road outside my house was also not good and I did not feel safe walking home from the bus stop at night. This combined with the infrequency of the bus led me to have to pay for taxis almost every day from my house and over the course of 2 months I spent $300 on transportation when the other students maybe paid half of that. I talked to the administration about moving several times, but they told me that as long as the family was nice that I should just stay. I later found out this was because so many other people in my program had moved houses because they didn't get along with their host families (at least 10 people changed houses) and they didn't have enough families for people to be moved. I finally told them I could not afford to keep paying for taxis every day to and from school, etc. and that it was ridiculous for me to do so when I paid the same amount for the program that the other students did and none of them had that additional cost. I was finally moved to a house that was a 10 minute walk from the university with a wonderful woman who I am still in contact with. Thus it has 3 stars - I would have given 1 for my first host family and 5 for my second one.

* Food:

My first family had ok food. My second one was excellent.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I never had a health issue come up during the program.

* Safety:

I almost always felt safe. Cumbaya where the university is feels very safe night and day. Quito is generally very safe, but would not feel comfortable alone at night - in groups at night it is fine.

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

Yes just because when I was researching going abroad I didn't see any other programs that offer direct enrollment in Quito or even in Ecuador. I fell in love with Ecuador - the people are wonderful, the culture is vibrant, it's cheap and easy to travel all over the entire country within the semester, USFQ is comparable to U.S. universities so the transition was easy... however, if there was a different program that was not IES I would do it through them. I just finished the Spring semester in Chile with IFSA Butler and IFSA Butler Valparaiso outdid IES Quito by a long shot in terms of program support and overall organization.

Finances

* 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)

When I was with my first host family, I didn't like the food very much and they didn't give me that much of it so I was constantly eating out and also spending money on taxis, etc. I spent a ton of money my first couple months abroad. After I switched host families half way through, I ate almost every meal at home and was able to walk most places. Under those circumstances it would be 5 starts - very minimal /minimal cost. Traveling in Ecuador is very cheap and most food as long as you don't eat at western places is also cheap.

Language

* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Advanced
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Advanced
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Make friends with locals! If you hang out with the gringos 24/7 you will crack and speak English to each other.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • my 2nd host family
  • the university
  • the trip to the Amazon
* What could be improved?
  • overall organization
  • host family placement
  • Visa support
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Just get your visa beforehand. If you have a problem with your host family from the beginning (after first month) just switch.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Avid Adventurer
The wardrobe you packed was better suited for a semester of camping than club hopping. Outdoorsy, you might forgo a crazy night out for an early all-day adventure. You'd rather take in the rich culture of an old town than the metropolis of a modern city, but for you getting off the grid is ideal.