An adventure; character building and self growth July 03, 2014

By (International Relations and Spanish, Lehigh University) - abroad from 01/26/2014 to 05/10/2014 with

SIT Study Abroad: Ecuador - Development, Politics and Languages

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned so much about the country which lead to self realizations about my own country. These are the types of things I would never learn in a classroom in the USA. It was definitely worthwhile, I cannot wait to venture back.

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.

This program helped me fully understand the complex political views of the country as well as conduct my own devised independent research project.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The director of this program truly made my experience. Usually when choosing a study abroad program, many students do not consider the staff an important factor. I realized how lucky I was later on, how lucky I was to have such an intelligent and outgoing academic director.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

During this program, students live with multiple host families. Some were wonderful, others were satisfactory. However, living with a family with cultural norms totally different from your own is bound to cause challenges.

* Food:

The families always gave large amounts of food, and would constantly ask me to take more. Ecuadorians eat mostly carbohydrates, so if you too love carbs, then Ecuador will be food heaven for you.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

My host families always introduced me to their extended families and friends. They often took me out on the town, and introduced me to their daily activities in town as well as their favorite foods.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Health issues were addressed right away. My director always made sure that anyone with food allergies or specific eating requirements were given alternate dishes. Also, a friend of mine tore her ACL, and my academic director got her doctor appointments right away.

* Safety:

No one should be afraid to live in Ecuador if they follow the academic directors warnings that he gives in the beginning of the semester. This includes not walking alone at night, making sure you watch your bag on buses, and always being with a buddy when going to clubs at night.

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

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)

The director always gave us money if we were expected to eat on our own. Also, Ecuador is very cheap. They use the US dollar, so there is no exchange rate. You can buy a full course meal for 3 dollars.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 5-10 dollars

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

We spoke and wrote in spanish all of the time.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Advanced grammar
How many hours per day did you use the language?

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

  • Americans
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?
  • Independent Research Project
  • Traveling with the program all over the country
  • It is a small program, so there's a lot of individual attention
* What could be improved?
  • They could help students integrate better with local university students
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew not to be nervous at all. I had a little bit of anxiety before leaving.

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.