Field-based, hands-on A+++ experience! Past Review

By (Swarthmore College) - abroad from 08/27/2017 to 12/09/2017 with

SIT Study Abroad: Ecuador - Development, Politics and Languages

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it 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.

Not too hard, not too easy, just enough to be incredibly intellectually engaging without burning you out! Also, you could really mold the program to your interests.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Fabian and Sofia were the kindest, most caring, most structured, and intellectually passionate individuals I have ever met. Some of the best teachers, too!

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My homestay wasn't excellent. I had a few personal issues (that were eventually resolved), but most of my other classmates LOVED theirs!

* Food:

If you like rice, you've come to the right place! Dietary restrictions can be a little tricky to navigate, especially if you're vegetarian or Kosher.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

My homestay and ISP experience were completely culturally integrated, but I found it almost too easy to spend too much time with my US group members.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

The directors are ready, willing, and able to facilitate whatever healthcare needs you might have!

* Safety:

It's a city. Petty crime is high, but if you keep your wits about you and stay in groups, you're totally safe. There's no reason to fear for your personal safety.

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

SIT Ecuador: Development, Politics, and Languages could not have been a better experience. I applied to the program on a whim following the advice of my study abroad advisor and it could not have been a more perfect fit, and the hands-on, field-based experience we had was once in a lifetime. From city life in Quito to the coast of Guayaquil and the Galapagos Islands, all the way to the Amazon, we had the unique opportunity of being able to learn first-hand about Ecuador's most pressing socio-political issues from those directly involved in grassroots organizations and those affected by the ever-shifting political climate. Fabian, the academic director, is the most knowledgeable and passionate teacher I have ever had in my life. He and Sofia (the assistant director) were a constant support structure throughout the entire process and were always ready, willing, and able to lend an ear, a hand, or whatever you might need. I was able to immerse myself in Ecuadorian culture through my homestays and consequently improved my Spanish dramatically. The ISP was an incredible experience; I was able to prove to myself that I can, do, and will belong in academia, an aspect I have been doubting about myself for a long time. The opportunity to engage in field-based primary research at that level with the level of support that we had is something incredibly unique. The best part of the program is that you can really mold it to your academic interests- whether you're passionate about the environment, human migration, linguistics, gay rights, etc. etc., you can make the program what you want it to be!


* 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 definitely the place to go if you're on a budget, even if you're low-income. Everything is incredibly cheap compared to US prices (except for imports), so it's very possible to go out and have a good time every week, even every day, without breaking the bank. The program covers all meals and travel costs related directly to program activities.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $20-$50, it depended on the week
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Try to split your taxi rides and use the metro


* 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 were in homestays, so we had to use the language every day. Also, class time was explicitly Spanish.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Advanced
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? IB-HL Spanish (+1 semester of college Spanish that was basically the equivalent)
How many hours per day did you use the language? 10+
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Watch telenovelas (no matter how bad they are!) and movies, read material in the language, and just generally try to expose yourself to Spanish as much as possible. Improvement comes from usage.

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?
  • Language improvement
  • Academic confidence
  • Fully integrative
* What could be improved?
  • N/A
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? The physical components can be pretty demanding, especially at high altitudes. Not recommended for anyone with accessibility issues or physical handicaps.

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!