A super positive experience in Ecuador! June 25, 2015

By (Sociology, Whitman College) - abroad from 01/25/2015 to 05/09/2015 with

SIT Study Abroad: Ecuador - Development, Politics and Languages

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained so many great friendships and relationships with various people in my experience abroad that I hope to maintain for the rest of my life. I also feel like I learned a ton and as though I gained new perspectives on various social issues as well as a greater awareness of others and of myself. The experience was certainly more than worthwhile!

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.

I was definitely challenged to think critically and deeply about many issues, and I always felt like I was learning and stretching my mind; however, the academics certainly felt more relaxed in regards to the amount of homework we had. I think this was necessary, though, it allowed time for engaging with host families and doing new things, which also was a key part of the program for me.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The on-site administration of my program was incredible. They organized and directed the program to run very smoothly for everyone, and they made it very enjoyable as well.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I loved living with various host families. It was neat to connect and make meaningful relationships with people from the area. Also, it was fun to have them show me around to their favorite places.

* Food:

I had several dietary restrictions before leaving the country, so it was a bit of a challenge for me to adapt to the food in Ecuador. That said, I often enjoyed meals, and I think most of my peers did, too.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt very integrated with the local culture when I was spending time with my host family and their friends. I didn't feel quite as integrated when I was spending time with my American student peers; however, I always felt welcome and as though people were happy to interact with us.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I was lucky because I stayed healthy while abroad, therefore I do not have firsthand experience with the quality of the heath care. However, I talked with my peers who did receive care, and they were pleased with the attention they received.

* Safety:

I always felt like I should be aware of my surroundings, but I rarely ever felt like my safety was in danger, either. I personally was never directly affected by any incident, but I know several people that were (most of the incidents involved theft).

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)

For the majority of the time, I lived very far from the rest of my peers and from class, so I spent a bit of money on transportation. But other than that, I did not feel like I spent money on anything else.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $20-$40
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Whenever possible, share taxis with friends, even if you aren't going to exactly the same place.

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

Students were always encouraged to use Spanish in class and when with families; however, when we were on breaks or spending time as a group, they did not discourage us from using English, either.

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? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? two 340 level courses
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? Don't worry about having your grammar be perfect while speaking. Instead, just put yourself out there, do your best, and say all you can. Grammar will come with time (and studying).

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?
  • I really enjoyed learning about the subjects and themes that the program focused on.
  • I absolutely loved connecting with many people from Ecuador, as well as the other students from the U.S.
  • I think that the Academic director did an incredible job running the program effectively.
* What could be improved?
  • I think that it would be neat if the Spanish course went through most of the semester rather than only the first few weeks.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish that I would have had a better idea of what to pack. I didn't need to bring as much as I did, and I kept wishing that I would have packed super lightly.

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.