Study Abroad in Ecuador. Galapagos & Quito - Study Abroad + Service Learning in Ecuador Past Review

By (Education, Elmhurst University) for

IPSL: Reviews from former Locations

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Yes. I love travel. My second (third? English, Secondary Ed Certification, and Spanish) is Spanish, which is the language spoken. I loved my service placement. Don't be afraid of service work if you work a job now. It's like switching the time out.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Although the time for our program's class was very inconvenient in regard to service work and other classes, I was glad to have a weekly meeting with my other program members. We were able to travel together often, and our program included multiple trips, which other programs did not. I also thought that our program directors were awesome. We were held accountable for completing service hours which helped us to pass the time doing something worthwhile. All of my group members enjoyed the service work. There were about ten of us.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

While my mother lived in a small apartment, I had my own bathroom (which I'd never had before, and much enjoyed) and I would definitely rather have lived in this location than have had a large house! I was across the street from the movie theatre, and only a block away from the mall. Also, the metro bus had a stop right in front of my house!

* Food:

My host mother was a great cook. I would advise students to make sure not to drink juice or water unless they know that it came from a bottle and not the tap (as you can become very sick). Just about everyone becomes sick at one time or another because we are not used to the food, but drinking the tap water can be dangerous in many places. One of the girls in my program caught a serious parasite and had to go to the doctor (and I believe took a visit to the hospital) and be on medication because of this. Do not eat food from street vendors unless you know what it is and saw it cooked (hot! kill bacteria!). Often food is left out or saved for days until someone buys it. (Chifles---banana/plantain chips, are okay and delicious) At the mall the food and water are good, no worries. Most places in Quito are safe; however, if it looks shady stay away from juices and drinks that aren't bottled. But if you are ever nervous, just ask.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Amazing to travel, not to mention cheap and easy! Transportation(buses/metro) cost about a dollar an hour. Hostels can be as cheap as 4 or 5 dollars a person. 7 or 8 are usually good clean hostels with a cable tv and bathroom (as long as you share. The more to a room, the cheaper it is). nicer hostels can be 12-15 dollars (USA) or there are the pricy hostels, spas, and hotels. Vacation times are also a bit more expensive, but nothing compared to US prices. Food is also cheap and delicious. Problem with the social life---1. the kids at the university are used to foreigners (about 200 study abroad students attended USFQ every year), so they don't bother to make friends unless you plan to stay for a long time. You really can't trust people outside of church, school, etc. While Ecuador does not have much in the way of dangerous crimes, people are robbing and pick-pocketing on every corner (literally). You wear a backpack on the street, by the time you get where you are going and take it off, ALL of the pockets are open. And no, you don't feel it if they're a good theif. (cause I've felt the bad ones and caught them trying) Often I would only take books, paper, and pencils to school, as nobody woul steal that. It sounds terrible, but you can't trust anybody on the street, because it is a culture in which stealing is an everyday occurance (especially if you're foreign).

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

No large crime (I saw a kid almost get robbed once. He ran out into traffic to avoid the theives). We were told not to go out alone at night (obviously). My host-mother was robbed while I was there, and people tried to pick-pocket me nearly every day. Health issues were taken care of quickly, as all families had a copy of hospitals (etc.) that had experience dealing with foreigners. No major crime often, just tons of theft.

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
Language acquisition improvement?

Most people did not speak English, and the University I attended taught classes in Spanish. There were other universities where one could take classes in English, if desired. I was placed with a host family that did not speak English, and took regular classes aside from my program course and the required Spanish for foreigners class (which was of a higher level and the teacher rarely spoke English. She only used English if absolutely necessary to explain something). At my service site (a school) I used English, because I taught and assisted in English classes as well as other classes.

If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

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  • Host Family

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Carry expensive stuff in your bra/ in a holder inside your clothing. Do not carry anything you don't want stolen on your back/in pockets. Living is cheap if you don't over-do it. Transportation is easy to come by and cheap. Traveling is awesome. Look up stuff online and go all over! Remember that your host parents do not always know much of what they are talking about when it comes to transportation/directions/times of events, etc. Look stuff up online. Cabanas La Tortuga was an AWESOME beachside hotel/hostel which I stayed in over Spring Break. The owner was super laid-back and friendly and spoke really good EnglishThey had packages included in tour of la isla de la plata (aka the poor man's Galapagos), Los Frailles (best beach around). Amazing seafood cuisine. Banos was amazing (tourists love it. Rafting, the hot springs, Chiva tours). Quilotoa was up in the mountains. Nice for hiking, and we ate cuy there. (guinea pig. Yes, I saw it, alive before we ate it. It WAS a guinea pig, not a capibura or some other strange critter that people try to convince themselves of so that they don't have to think it's a guinea pig. IT IS). Largest market, and nice to stay (2hours from Quito via bus)Otavalo. Panama hats come from Cuenca (not panama). So much to do! Check out as much as you can. you can bus to anywhere.