A semester at the middle of the world: Quito, Ecuador - BCA Quito - University of San Francisco de Quito Past Review

By (Romance Languages and Literature, Carleton College) for

Study Abroad Programs in Ecuador

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I have become better at going with the flow, I'm now more outgoing, and learning how to live in another culture has made me realize many things about my own (that I have one, for example). After being in Ecuador and seeing social workers at my internship, I have begun thinking seriously about social work, either international social work or working with immigrants in the US.

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.

Expectations were definitely lower at the Universidad San Francisco than my home school, but that was fine, and I think ideal in a way because it lets you be more free to get involved with other things like volunteering, clubs, making friends. The grading system is A-F, with no +/-.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Everything about my program was wonderful. There were other study abroad programs at my university, and students often complained about those, but I'm pretty sure everyone on my program was very content with it. It's about a month longer than most programs with our pre-semester class, it's relatively cheap, and that price includes all the trips (6 days in the Galapagos, 5 days in the Amazon, 2 days in Otavalo, 4 days on the coast, plus day trips) and all meals. We also get $4 per day for lunch, which is great when lunches cost $1-2. They also give us a little money for taxis and phones each month. Our program had 20 kids, which was a nice size. Our directors are very knowledgeable--the main director has spent 10 years in Ecuador and the assistant is Ecuadorian.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I loved my family. I was definitely treated as a family member. The neighborhood was nice--middle class for the most part, and located in Northern Quito. It was about an hour from school by bus and a $3 taxi ride from the Mariscal, where most of the bars and clubs are.

* Food:

Expect a lot of white rice, white bread, and fried things. You'll probably gain weight. But also delicious fresh fruits and juices!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

The program covers these very extensively in orientation.

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)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Maybe like $25 of my own money (not including lunch stipend)
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? You have to pay $40 to leave the Quito airport whenever you leave the country. Taxis are cheap but add up. You'll probably spend about $10 per month on cellphone minutes. Clothes and electronics are really expensive here.

Language

* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? A couple literature classes
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

I lived with a host family, so by default I spoke Spanish for a good portion of each day. Everyone in the program has to live with a host family. Most people at the university did know English, but outside the university English was much less common.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

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  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? A somewhat independent and outgoing student would benefit most, though I feel like most people who are willing to step out of their comfort zone for a little while would love this program.