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Semester in Ecuador

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    10

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All you need is Ecuador

Ecuador's geographical layout is so diverse in so little space. Beaches, mountains, jungle, city. Ecuador has it all. This is the best choice to experience every aspect of Latin America.

Living Situation:
I would not recommend living with a host family. It was a great experience, but dorms or apartment would be better.

Cultural Immersion:
While English is spoken by students and higher educated local, Spanish is spoken the majority of the time, thus forcing one to learn and use it on a day to day basis.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    8

  • Social Life

    10

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Wonderful

My trip was was amazing and I don't regret one bit of it.

Academics:
Overall, the professors knew their material and were eager to help students. They were also flexible and understood that many students had translation issues.

Living Situation:
I loved my host family. They were kind and welcoming.

Cultural Immersion:
At USFQ you feel isolated from poverty, etc. The people who go here make up perhaps the one percent of the extremely wealthy who live in Ecuador. A lot of the cultural immersion came from what I did with the program.

Program Administration:
Overall the administration was wonderful and helpful.

Health and Safety:
Quito is known to be a little sketchy. Luckily I was not robbed but I have numerous friends who were.

Social Life:
I didn't go out much but spent a lot of time with my host family.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    6

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    6

  • Social Life

    8

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Choose Your Own Adventure

The perks of studying abroad in Ecuador are numerous: friendly people, delicious food (especially seafood), public transportation that will take you anywhere in the country for cheap, hostels for $8 a night, great cultural and night life right in Quito, every outdoor adventure you could ever want from mountaineering to scuba diving. I thought CIS did a great job of giving us students enough support, but not requiring group trips on many weekends, as other programs at the same university did. We had the freedom to choose our own adventures, while still meeting with our (awesome) program director once a week for a cultural or hang-out event. Universidad San Francisco offered a broad range of course options, though the academics were not always as challenging as I would have liked. But considering the fact that most of my classes were in Spanish, and I didn't want to be loaded down with homework every weekend, I was satisfied with my course load. The Ecuadorian students at USFQ were a bit hard to get to know, and that made hanging out with other gringos easier - but it is by no means impossible to find meaningful friendships at the university. I lucked out with my host family, who were more laid-back than some more protective Ecuadorian families, but still caring, interesting, eager to have family meals and help me with my Spanish. I chose this program partly for the host family aspect, and I think it's an incredibly valuable experience. People worry about Ecuador (and all of Latin America) being unsafe, but I found that as long as you're smart and stay aware and watch your stuff, you'll be fine. Traveling is easy and fun, and USFQ's week-long mid-semester break offers a great opportunity to visit another country, or the Galapagos, take a scuba diving certification course, or go backpacking...anything is possible.

Academics:
The university in Ecuador provided a broad range of course options, many very interesting and geared toward those wanting to learn more about Ecuador or the Andes. Overall, I found the academics much less challenging than in the US (but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing - allowed for extra exploration time).

Living Situation:
I think that living with a host family is one of the best ways to really learn the language. I lucked out with my host family and had a less strict Ecuadorian mother than some other students, plus my own bathroom and freedom to come and go as I pleased.

Cultural Immersion:
Complete cultural immersion was difficult for a few reasons: 1. the host university has a 20% international student population; 2. I found the Ecuadorian students a little clique-y and social groups hard to break into; 3. I was travelling most weekends, which is when a lot of the social life happens. But at the same time, every day I was riding city buses, which is certainly a cultural experience.

Program Administration:
I loved that the CIS program included weekly meetings, but that they were during the week, only for a few hours, not required, and close to home. That left us free to roam where we would on the weekends, as opposed to other programs that often had mandatory group trips.

Health and Safety:
I never had any trouble, but I know many people who were victims of petty theft - never violent, but sometimes accompanied by a knife or machete. As long as you're smart and aware, it's generally not a big issue. And again, crime in general is more violent in the US than in Ecuador.

Social Life:
I always felt like I had a lot of social options, but didn't always take advantage of them because mostly they revolved around drinking in La Mariscal, which I liked occasionally, but didn't want to pay for every night.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    7

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    7

  • Social Life

    10

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Que chevere... Que lindo.

Studying abroad in Quito was everything I could have hoped for and more. What I noticed right away upon arriving in Ecuador was the more laid back lifestyle where "tranquila" is a way of life. The culture is set around food and family; two things I have thoroughly enjoyed here. My host family, a cozy little beach family misplaced in Quito, welcomed me with open arms and a level of communication that made me very comfortable. Visiting the relatives often included talks about food and discussing my school over cafecito, a snack after dinner. Living in the capital city of Quito greeted me with city living which is new to me, and also a plethora of people and places to see. Weekend trips often included the beach or the forest, more of my comfort zone. Great time. The best time.

Academics:
The University isn't one I would choose on my own, but it was beautiful. The Ecuadorian students were standoffish and the staff were often late to class if they showed up at all. But I did have good teachers and I loved the ceramics department.

Living Situation:
The best. I adore my family.

Cultural Immersion:
Hard to get to know kids in school, but I did feel fully immersed.

Program Administration:
Love her.

Health and Safety:
Keep your guard up, don't respond to hassling.

Social Life:
I met friends, mostly gringas but also Ecuas around Quito were eager to connect.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Health and Safety

    6

  • Social Life

    9

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CIS Review

Overall, I am completely happy with my experience studying abroad. I just feel like my life would have been a lot easier if I lived somewhere closer to school. But my program director was always available, my host family was lovely, and traveling was easy to arrange.

Academics:
The school was great, but the study abroad office could have been more efficient and I always felt like the school did not give an accurate representation of my school seeing as it is private and very expensive, and not very typical of the rest of Ecuador that I saw.

Living Situation:
I completely and utterly love my host family, and I feel like I have a very close bond with them now. I just wish my house was closer to school. It takes at least an hour and fifteen minutes to get to school, and even longer to get home. And if there is traffic, I feel like half my day is gone just getting there and back.

Cultural Immersion:
Like I said, the school gave an inaccurate portrayal of Ecuador. But I am happy with the rest of my experiences traveling and seeing things.

Program Administration:
Before I arrived, it was sometimes hard to communicate with the offices.

Health and Safety:
I have never had a bad incident, but you MUST be aware at all times in Quito, and almost all of my friends have been robbed.

Social Life:
I made great lifelong friends that include other study abroad students, other Ecuadorian students, and my host sister. Getting to see people was hard sometimes just because getting around in a city is hard for me.

Overall Rating

8/ 10

  • Academics

    7

  • Living Situation

    4

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    6

  • Health and Safety

    8

  • Social Life

    6

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Thanks Ecuador!

Overall I had a wonderful experience in Ecuador. My homestay was great after I changed to a new family, the university was lovely ( lots of international students and wealthy Ecuadorians; not the best experience for everyone but it worked for me).
Coordinating with CISAbroad before my departure was a bit confusing because I moved to Ecuador 2 months before the program started, but once I got in touch with the right people, everything fell into place. I would recommend the program to other students who are interested in diversity, travel, and independence!

Academics:
Some classes were a bit disorganized.

Living Situation:
I changed host families after one month because I wasn't interacting much with my host family and I didn't feel welcome in the house. After expressing my feelings about that uncomfortable situation, the home stay change process took a few weeks, which I felt was too long

Cultural Immersion:
The homestay and classes at the university provided opportunities to experience the language and the culture. I would suggest in the future that programs designed for meeting Ecuadorians individually, such as Ecuabuddies become a mandatory/ integral part of the program.

Program Administration:
Everyone with CIS was wonderful. Diana was very helpful and made the activities that we did very fun. I did feel that once Frances, the intern, left, I didn't really hear anything from the program and we didn't so any activities for the last month or two.

Health and Safety:
Quito is one of the most dangerous cities in South America. Yet I felt well prepared and informed thanks to the orientations and safety information I received

Social Life:
My social life consisted mostly of independently initiated activities with international students. I would have liked more facilitated activities with Ecuadorian students particularly near the beginning of the program.

Overall Rating

8/ 10

  • Academics

    7

  • Living Situation

    6

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health and Safety

    8

  • Social Life

    10

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Ama la Vida

Studying abroad in Quito was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had. We had a small group this semester and that was really great because we were able to develop close relationships with each other and the program coordinator. I really liked the freedom of the program and the fact that we were not "mommied." We were able to do our own thing while at the same time always receiving support if we needed it. Traveling on weekends was super easy and cheap. Quito is a big city, and at first I was overwhelmed by this. It can take a lot of time to get around, but the public transportation system is excellent. Overall, a great place to study abroad and a great program for independent students.

Health and Safety:
Nothing dangerous or unfortunate happened to me personally during my experience. Robberies were talked about a lot though, and it is generally known that Quito can be unsafe in certain areas at night.

Social Life:
I developed a close circle of friends from the beginning, so I was happy in this regard. It was easy to meet people at the university too. Gringos definitely hung out with other gringos for the most part though, and although I was able to meet Ecuadorean friends, this was a little bit more difficult.

Overall Rating

7/ 10

  • Academics

    5

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Cultural Immersion

    6

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health and Safety

    4

  • Social Life

    9

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Ecuador is fun, but full cultural immersion is impossible and academics are subpar.

I definitely had a fun time in Ecuador, but I came into the study abroad thinking that I would experience much more cultural immersion than I did. I know that this is true with most every single study abroad student that I met here. The academics were often frustratingly simple, requiring very little work. The country is gorgeous, although Quito itself begins to feel claustrophobic, and more study abroad students than not end up getting robbed at some point during the semester. The greatest thing about Ecuador is how easy it is to travel around the country during weekends/vacations, and there are also opportunities to get to nearby countries during Spring break and after the semester. Peru and Colombia were popular destinations.

Academics:
The classes do not require very much effort, you don't learn very much, and, depending on the class, the grading can be quite arbitrary.

Living Situation:
My homestay situation was good, but I know that it can be quite hit or miss. You also end up living quite far away from USFQ, which makes travel back and forth quite frustrating (about an hour each way for me).

Cultural Immersion:
It can be difficult to make many Ecuadorian friends, and many of the Ecuadorian friends that people make seem to be the same ones who hang out with the new Gringos every semester. Inevitably you will make a few great Ecuadorian friends, but you also inevitably spend much more time with other students from the United States than you expect.

Program Administration:
The program administration in the country is great, but in all honesty, once I arrived in Ecuador it seemed pretty unnecessary to have someone there to organize activities for me. I met with the program director maybe three times in total.

Health and Safety:
I was lucky enough to not get robbed but was definitely in the minority. It is also never safe to walk around Quito at night, which becomes very frustrating (taxis only, but be careful with them too).

Social Life:
Immersion is difficult, but in the end, the friends you make, whether North American or Ecuadorian, are pretty fantastic.

Overall Rating

5/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    5

  • Health and Safety

    3

  • Social Life

    8

View detailed rating

Worth the experience, but come prepared.

Ecuador has a lot to offer: ancient ruins, beautiful beaches, breathtaking volcanoes. I went mountain biking, rode horses, stood at the top of the rainforest and hiked down a crater lake. There is so much to do and see if you do not mind a few mosquitoes. The University was nice, but it does feel a but like high school from the classes to the social life. The commute is daunting at first, but it becomes second nature. I would say go, but make sure to bring your own sunblock and other toiletries as they are pricey in general. A small bottle of SPF will run you about $20. And vegetables are not a big part of the local diet so make sure you are prepared to bring your own when traveling and to firmly discuss their incorporation with your host family. The last thing I would mention is safety. The U.S. Embassy came and spoke to us and reported that 93% of Americans in Ecuador are victims of nonviolent crime . I knew quite a few students who had been robbed. Just be smart about where you go, who you are going with and what valuables you take. I was cautious and I stayed safe. Don't let your fear be so great that it keeps you from accomplishing your goal.

Academics:
The class structure reminded me of high school, and most of the professors would take very long to answer emails.

Living Situation:
My home was nice, but CIS advertised close to school. I was taking the bus an hour to get to class; that's two hours of my day lost. I do not consider that close.

Cultural Immersion:
I made Ecuadorian friends because I tried, but it seemed to me that it was just a bunch of Americans hanging out with each other in a foreign country.

Program Administration:
Brian: He was nice, but failed to get me the information I needed about course selection. It made my actual departure more stressful because I had no idea what I was walking into. Additionally the staff person who answered a question about the program for me when he was not there provided me with incorrect information and caused a long set back in my studies that I am still trying to work out today. I recommend the office is on the same page or actually admitting to the lack of information.

Kate: our program coordinator until March
She was great; we had weekly activities and saw and did so much because of her. A bit disorganized in actually making the plans and giving us notice in advance.
Diana: She isn't off to such a great start. She whipped up a last minute excursion for us which was nice, but there was a guy there from another one of the programs and we shared a room with him. There was a divider in place but he walked through it TWICE while I was changing. I felt very uncomfortable. Diana also did not see or speak to us until we demanded the excursion mentioned above. She also took more than a week to respond to my email. I'm not sure if she was learning the ropes, but our experience went down in quality after Kate left,

Health and Safety:
See other section.

Social Life:
Great friends safety limits made us stay in after dark or be on high alert in late night taxis.