A truly transformative, challenging, and rewarding experience Past Review

By (Brown University) - abroad from 01/04/2016 to 05/06/2016 with

Pachaysana Institute: Ecuador - Rehearsing Change

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Rehearsing Change far surpassed any goals I had for the semester. I was looking for a program that would connect me to someplace new — a program that was intrinsically linked to the place it occurred, rather than just-so-happening to occur somewhere. I really don’t know enough about other study abroad programs to fairly compare, but I can say with confidence that our Rehearsing Change experience was fundamentally shaped by the communities where we lived and studied. In some ways I think Rehearsing Change is more of an Ecuadorian education program that a few incredibly fortunate international students get the chance to do. Personally I developed wonderful friendships, learned how to take the ecovia, became accustomed to eating rice three times a day, and grew to love bathing in the river. Academically (although I don’t think the distinction between personal and academic is as clear as this might suggest), our classes were all richer, more motivating, and more genuine because they were so deeply rooted in the communities where they took place.

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.

Classes were rigorous, engaging, and tailored specifically to the group of students in the program. Professors were tremendously dedicated, and encouraged learning from our fellow students.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The program is run by the most dedicated, hard-working, thoughtful team imaginable.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My host families always took care of me like one of their own, and were kind and generous.

* Food:

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I would give this 6 stars if I could. Rehearsing Change is fundamentally structured to integrate students into the communities where they live and study. Most of my closest friends are Ecuadorian, and while I miss them tremendously and it made leaving very painful, it truly made the experience what it was.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

By both the program staff and my host families/communities, I was taken care of like a daughter.

* Safety:

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

It’s challenging to transplant yourself into a new country. I arrived in Ecuador terrified and fairly confused about what I’d gotten myself into. I don’t think any amount of research or reading beforehand could have fully prepared me for what was to come. Deciding to do Rehearsing Change requires a leap of faith — a willingness to jump into the unknown, and trust that there will be someone to catch you when you land. When I write or talk about Rehearsing change, that includes the exceptional classes and educational experiences, but also mundane and extraordinary experiences that would normally fall more under the category of life than a study abroad program. How do I rate four months of my life? Those months were some of the most challenging and also the happiest I can remember. Rehearsing change was grounding, confusing, thought-provoking, and often way outside of my comfort zone. I walk away with new perspectives on what it means to be from the USA, new views of the world, and also an understanding of how much I have yet to learn. I felt at once pushed to go further and deeper, and secure that no matter what happened I would be cared for. I have found here new families and homes, and as weeks and days start to count down until I leave Ecuador (after 7 months), I feel both incredibly lucky that I have become so rooted here, and terrified about the hole that Ecuador will leave in my heart. Rehearsing Change gave me the warmest welcome I could have imagined, and that makes the goodbye all that much harder.


* 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)

Ecuador is very cheap compared to the US. We were given 2 meals a day by our host families, and more than enough money to cover lunch and taxis (for safety).

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $15


* 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

Our classes were all in spanish, and the majority of people we interacted with didn't speak english. Speaking spanish was a necesity.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Intermediate
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Fluent
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? AP Spanish Language
How many hours per day did you use the language? 10+

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
  • Host Family
  • Other
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with? 10+

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Getting to know people from such different backgrounds
  • The use of the arts to investigate challenging questions
  • Being pushed out of my comfort zone all the time
* What could be improved?
  • Make it longer! Or make a program for recent grads! I want to go back!
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I had known that I didn't need to worry so much. That while the program was new and challenging, everything was going to work out well. I wish I had known to bring one more pair of jeans, some Trader Joes peanut butter cups, and an extra pack of hair elastics.

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 Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!