Nicole Ormaza - 2016 Program Participant

What inspired you to go abroad?

The opportunity to live as a student in a different culture.

Why did you choose IES Abroad?

It provides the best program, academically and personally, for what I had been wanting.

Girl looking at Laguna Quilotoa in the Andes
Laguna Quilotoa

What made your experience studying abroad in Ecuador unique?

Being able to intern and doing what I love, and enjoying a culture that has been my own for so long and truly getting to know my ancestral heritage.

What surprised you most about Quito?

What surprised me most about Quito was the people. I had been to Ecuador many times before (since my family is from there), but this time around doing the study abroad program was vastly different. The people I met were all so humble and so inviting; it taught me to also have an inviting demeanor and taught me great humility.

What is one thing every participant should know before studying abroad in Ecuador? 

Open your mind before traveling, don't go to this place to show them where you come from or your culture, rather go there to be absorbed by a completely new culture and LEARN!

How did IES Abroad’s local staff support you throughout your program?

The staff at IES Abroad never failed to support me through my academics, my travels, and even in case of emergency.

Describe a typical day in the life of your program. 

Classes in the early morning, a walk across the street to the fruteria for a cup of fresh fruit, and then a full afternoon of work at the vet hospital to fulfill my hours for the internship.

Girl taking a selfie in Quito, Ecuador
Vista hermosa in Quito, Ecuador

What did you enjoy doing in your free time?

TRAVELING! Inside Quito to the historic downtown or outside to Ibarra to have one of the famous helados de paila or to Otavalo for some shopping in the mercado!

What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?

Traveled the country more!

What was your favorite part about Ecuador?

Ecuador is a country where a two to four hour bus ride will take you from the Andean mountain region to the Amazonian rainforest, or to the sandy beaches on the Pacific coast!

What were your housing arrangements like?

I had the luck to live with my grandfather. It was awesome to spend time with him throughout my semester.

What was the hardest part about studying abroad?

The hardest part about studying abroad for me was leaving my little brother and mother behind in Miami for so long, knowing I wasn't going to be able to see them for such a long time.

What is one thing you wish you would have known before studying abroad in Ecuador?

One thing I wish I would have know before studying abroad in Ecuador is that the days are HOT and when it rains, it pours!

Couple and their dog hiking Pichincha in Quito, Ecuador
Hiking the Pichincha with a sight to Kuntur Wachana

Do you have any packing tips for students headed to Quito?

Clothes to layer! Quito is a city that will go from hot to cold to rainy to freezing! I recommend packing clothing that one could take on and off easily throughout the day: tee shirts or tank tops, jackets, sweaters, and a scarf. For those interested in touring and traveling the country, one heavy jacket is necessary for the colder regions, and bathing suits, shorts, and light clothing for the coastal regions and the Amazon. A good pair of sneakers is always good, especially for touring.

Ladies: Ecuador’s streets are very uneven, so heels are a must (of course), but I recommend the most comfortable and thicker heels to be able to walk comfortably in the street without getting your heels stuck in the pavement.

Bug repellent, especially for those planning on going to the beach, the Amazon, or the Galápagos Islands; it is a bit more expensive in Ecuador, so I recommend bringing your own from home. Finally, SUNSCREEN! Quito is at the top of a mountain, so the sun hits very hard. It is best to bring a good facial sunscreen to protect the face and not get burned.

What do you feel the biggest benefit of studying abroad is?

The biggest benefit of studying abroad is immersing yourself in a completely different culture and absorbing all aspects of it. Learning to open your mind to new foods, new languages, cultures, new EVERYTHING, and growing from the experience.

Now that you're home, how has your time in Ecuador impacted your life?

It was the best experience of my life so far. It has opened my eyes to all the possibilities outside of home and has instilled a new sense of motivation for the future.

Sunset in Salinas, Ecuador
Sunsets in Salinas||Guayas province

Would you recommend IES Abroad’s program in Quito to others? Why?

YES! The IES Abroad staff here and in Quito were always so helpful and friendly; they made everything in my journey possible. The Quito program at USFQ was a program that gave me many opportunities to have a different kind of academic challenge, while living the life of a student in another country.

If you could study abroad again, where would you go?

If I could study abroad again I would look into Australia!