Ecuador - 5 Months in Quito that Flew By - BCA Quito - University of San Francisco de Quito Past Review

By (Int'l Studies/Finance, Trinity University) - abroad from 07/21/2012 to 12/19/2013 with

Study Abroad Programs in Ecuador

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Absolutely worthwhile. It really help me put things into perspective and refine some goals. I learned a lot about Latin American history and social issues as well about the Ecuadorian identity.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

I enrolled in 6 upper-division content courses (business, economics and anthropology) at the local university Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) with other Ecuadorian students, all in Spanish. Because most other BCA students on my program choose to take language courses with other foreigners, I had more of an intense academic experience. At times, I found the classes quite difficult, mostly because of the language barrier. I especially struggled with two courses in particular, a business operations management course and intermediate macro-economics. I think that I learned a lot, but got less out of my abroad experience than I could have because I spent so much time studying and in class. Additionally, I found USFQ itself to be very frustrating at times- both its professors and administration.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

BCA Quito really does a stellar job. There were only minor things that I would change and Martha, Daniel (program director), and Miguel Andres were all very helpful and really wanted to help us succeed. BCA really enriched my experience in Ecuador and made it a positive one out of what could have been incredibly frustrating if I had just been interacting with the university -USFQ.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I loved my host family. BCA does a great job at placing students with experienced host families who really are interested in forming relationships with their students, not just having a monetary exchange for lodging. Only one student ended up changing families and BCA dealt with the issue extremely quickly and the student ended up very happy with her second family.

* Food:

I loved my EcuaMama's cooking. I'm vegan, but I didn't have any problems with this while I was in Ecuador. My host mom cooked vegan Ecuadorian food for me and when I was with BCA on its numerous excursions, the program staff always, always made sure that the restaurant or place where we would be eating had vegetarian and vegan food for us vegans and vegetarians. They were really great at accommodating this!!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I learned a lot of Spanish, and because I took my classes exclusively with other Ecuadorians, I met a number of Ecuadorian students and felt like a member of the university. I also lived with an Ecuadorian host family. However, despite these things, I don't feel that I was particularly "integrated" into Ecuadorian culture - but I'm really not sure how possible I believe this really is during only 4-5 months. And I know I was probably much more integrated than other BCA students who weren't taking courses with Ecuadorians and who hung out much more often with the other foreign students. BCA does do its best however to try and help us along the path to integration.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I had no health issues personally, but based on other BCA students' experiences, I know BCA Quito is very responsive and professional about helping students when they have health issues. A program staff member helped a friend at the ER when she was sick and a couple of the BCA staff members took one girl who had a more long term health problem to many, many doctors appointments. I can't comment, however, on the local healthcare system, as I didn't use it at all.

* Safety:

Quito is a big city. As such, it is not particularly safe, inherently. Many students were pickpocketed (my cellphone was taken from my pocket as I got on a crowed tram-bus), but we were warned about this at orientation and advised not to keep things in pockets. It is also not safe to walk around the city alone at night. However, Quito is perfectly safe if you make smart choices, take taxis at night, and are always mindful of your belongings. BCA advises its students about these things during orientation and gives a monthly transportation stipend so we don't skimp on getting taxis late at night. It's all about being aware and not making bad choices (ex. do not walk through parks at night, ever).

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)

Quito is not a very expensive place to live. Food is fairly cheap and clothing is the only thing that is as or more expensive as in the States. BCA gives a monthly food allowance for lunches and all food during excursions and we get breakfasts and dinners from our host families, so essentially the cost of all food but snacks is included in the program fee.

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 had a 3-week Spanish language pre-semester course and the program staff always encouraged us to speak in Spanish and over the course of the semester used more and more Spanish with us (in making announcements, during excursions, etc) until just about everything was in Spanish. However, many - almost everyone - students only spoke English among each other and I think this really lessened the amount of Spanish some people learned. Because I was in all Spanish courses, I was forced to learn and certainly did, but I know some others only really used it with their host families and in their language classes that didn't require full immersion. I feel BCA could make this more of a language immersion program, but perhaps that is not the principle goal. Additionally, some sort of language exchange partner matching program with Ecuadorians to help us meet others and practice Spanish would have been really useful (though USFQ is trying to start a program like this).

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? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Low intermediate
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? Do not speak English with your fellow study abroad students - even if you are not good at the local language at first, keep trying and practicing and don't give into English! Try as much as you can to speak the local language and make local friends - including taking classes with locals and not other foreigners! Also, avoid the internet and all of its English media as much as possible!

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

  • Local Students
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?
  • The program administration
  • The excursions
  • The host family
* What could be improved?
  • The university
  • The language immersion aspect
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I could have spoken less English with the other exchange students and spent more time with my host family. Also, if I had known (/realized) that taking six classes would limit my experience as much as it did, I may have chosen differently. I wish I knew also to expect so much frustration in dealing with USFQ! Lastly, I wish I had known that the internship experiences I tried to have were not going to work out - I could have saved a lot of time and effort!

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!