Ecuador: A Small Country with A Huge Variety of Adventures. Galapagos & Quito - Study Abroad + Service Learning in Ecuador Past Review

By (PSYCHOLOGY., Middlebury College) for

IPSL: Reviews from former Locations

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
YES!!! I gained a lot more confidence in my abilities to do things on my own and to live in a place that is totally foreign to me. I loved the chance to make new friends, explore a new country,and speak a new language. My eyes have been more opened to the wealth of experiences in the world. I am now more interested in a career that would involve more travel.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Just like at Midd, there is a huge variety between the type and quality of classes that you will find at USFQ. The classes for foreigners are great for perfecting your language skills, but I would definitely recommend trying to enroll in classes that have mostly Ecuadorian students. You will learn more Spanish and have more of a chance to connect with the Ecuadorian students.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

This program was generally very good. I was SO pleased with my host family, and the program director was very nice. Unfortunatley I was really disappointed with how little help I feel I received when looking for an internship. I was under the impression that the program would help me to find an internship, but I ended up having to make a lot of interview appointments etc. myself, and ultimately ended up with a service placement that I didn't really want.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My host family was the most amazing part of my stay. I lived with a young couple and their cousin, and they were nothing but wonderful to me. We lived in a very safe, nice apartment building and I had my own room. They provided me with sheets, towels and soap. I was made to feel like a member of the family. We always ate together, and I was frequently invited to spend time with their other relatives at the houses and to travel with them.

* Food:

Being a vegetarian here would be tough! Be prepared for lots of red meat, rice and soup. The fruits are SO good, and you can get a really good "set lunch" for 2.50.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

We went on a night tour of Quito with the program, which was cool. The program also arranged a trip into the Amazon, which was one of my favorite trips of my whole stay. We went to an amazing eco-lodge and learned so much about the people and eco-systems of the rainforest. My University also arranged a trip to their research station in the Amazon, which was equally amazing. I felt SO removed from regular society and it was just a magical place. Ecuador definitely offers a ton of awesome places to visit, especially if you are into nature/sporty activities. We travelled to beaches, rainforests, mountains, volcanoes, islands, canyons, and old, historical cities. The variety in such a small country was unbelieveable. My weekend trips were the MOST fun part of my stay.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Quito was pretty dangerous. Pick-pocketing, robberies, and muggings were common, especially if you looked American. I was robbed at gunpoint at night in my neighborhood, and many of my friends were also mugged. The city really demanded that you be cautious and on your toes at all times. It could be exhausting, so this is something to know going in. Healthcare was very good. There was a clinic on school grounds that was easy to get an appointment at and had good doctors.

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 spoke Spanish the most with my volunteer hours and with my host family. I would definitely reconmmend these two things as the aspects most beneficial to my learning of Spanish. I had to use Spanish in all daily interactions, and most people spoke English, but would mostly address us in Spanish. I spoke English the most when I was travelling with American friends. My Spanish is way better after my time abroad.

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?
  • host family
  • weekend trips
* What could be improved?
  • internship placemment
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I would strongly recommend this program to anyone who loves adventure and is flexible. The country has a TON of destinations that offer adventures such as white-water rafting, zip-lining, hiking, mountain-biking, surfing, rapelling, and exploring any type of natural landform you can imagine. I had a wonderful, wonderful experience, and I think that if you are into active trips and interested in learning more Spanish you should definitely consider studying in Quito, Ecuador.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Psychology of Addictions

Course Department:
Instructor: Esteban
Instruction Language: Spanish
Comments: This was definitely my most difficult course by far. Esteban was a compassionate teacher; but his accent was difficult to understand and he spoke quickly and quietly. He was my only professor that I had to really try to understand. He also rarely wrote on the board, and did not use Powerpoint or distribute notes. Class was more like 1.5 hours of his thoughts in a lecture. It was extremely difficult to discern what was important. Class consisted of a midterm, final, presentation, and final paper.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Social Psychology

Course Department:
Instructor: Jaime Costalesq
Instruction Language: Spanish
Comments: This course was more structured in that there was a quiz every week on readings that for the most part were not discussed in class; however, the quizzes themselves were not difficult as long as you had done the readings. This professor was really, really great. He sparked interesting discussions, and was really involved with Ecuadorian politics, so had plenty of examples on how to relate the topics of the course to real life. I was sort of forced to participate in this course at the beginning because Jaime always called on me-but this acted as a great confidence booster and after a while I became eager to contribute to discussions.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Advanced Conversation

Course Department:
Instructor: Claudia
Instruction Language: Spanish
Comments: This course was awesome. We learned a ton of Spanish and about Ecuadorian culture.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Service and Learning

Course Department:
Instructor: Karla Diaz
Instruction Language: Spanish
Comments: I was disappointed in this course. It was a class that consisted of 1 meeting a week in class and then 80 hours of community service. Classroom time focused on community development strategies. It should have been really interesting; however, I found Karla's teaching to be entirely unflexible and not that engaging. When students would become involved in passionate, heated discussions she would quickly quiet them down to continue on with her lesson plans. She also assigned a lot of writing assignments that felt like repetivite busy work. Perhaps this class would be better with a different instructor, but with her it was not worth the time.
Credit Transfer Issues: