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Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    5

  • Health and Safety

    7

  • Social Life

    9

Fifty Shades of Ecuador: a colorful experience of a lifetime

Ecuador is an amazing country with something to offer for everyone. The diverse and beautiful natural richness offers unforgettable views of mountains, beaches, waterfalls, jungles, rivers, butterflies, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and more. I was impressed both as a biologist and artist. The types of people here are just about as diverse as the nature in this country, and you will have the opportunity to meet many new friends if you take the time to go out and travel. There are food and drinks that will please any palate and price range, and the fruit is to die for. One of the best parts of the experience was living with my host family, which really helped to immerse me into the culture of Ecuador. This was an experience were you really benefitted the most if you learned to go a little bit outside of your comfort zone and were willing to pay for things outside of the program. Although the program was expensive, I would not trade my experiences for anything.

Academics:
I truly felt that I have learned a lot at the University and my Spanish as a result has definitely improved. The teachers at the University show a lot of interest in their classes and the material was all very interesting. The small class sizes were very helpful too.

Living Situation:
I loved living with my host mom! I felt very secure and at home living with her. It was really neat to practice Spanish with her everyday, her cooking was incredible, and I really learned a lot from her.

Cultural Immersion:
I've really come to appreciate the Ecuadorian culture due to all the people that I've been able to meet in this experience. The food, faith, festivities, and outlook on life of the Ecuadorians are simply fantastic. I would not trade the experience of meeting so many special people for anything.

Program Administration:
I felt the administration was very helpful before my trip and at the beginning of my stay in Ecuador as they provided me with helpful information. However from the middle and to the end of my trip I felt there were much less activities and contact with the program administration, which frustrated me a bit since the program was expensive. Also, since there were other programs at the university, I had some confusion as to what activities were covered in the cost of my program, which I had initially expected to be more.

Health and Safety:
For the most part I felt pretty safe in Ecuador, but it is a bit of an adjustment for someone from a small town. I have felt pretty uncomfortable on some of the crowded buses, but otherwise the only things I have lost have been through my own fault.

Social Life:
I am so happy that I got to meet so many new friends. Most of them were not from my program, but nevertheless they are people that I will never forget. I had so much fun traveling, going out at night, and just spending time with the people I have met here. It's definitely hard to be bored in Ecuador.

Overall Rating

8/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    6

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health and Safety

    7

  • Social Life

    8

Big city, little me

I've never lived in a city as big as Quito, it was exciting, but I wasn't prepared for many aspects of it. The pollution was choking at times, and even in the heat of the day I wore a scarf just to feel comfortable breathing. The cars drive fast, after dark many stoplights can be ignored, and pedestrians should always double-check both directions of traffic before crossing streets. My host family lived on one of the busiest streets around, and I could never sleep in. There are many bars/clubs around the city; drinks are cheap, and dancing to reggaeton and salsa music was a fun experience. I learned so much Spanish while being there, and the locals were generally friendly. Gringos do stick out to thieves, though--nearly half of the people in my school group were robbed at one point or another. Towards the beginning of the program I guess I was supposed to get a city tour, but that was never mentioned to me beforehand. I feel that it would have been very helpful, but otherwise the on site staff were always available and informative. USFQ is one of the top universities in the country, but their Summer courses are limited in subjects. While my teachers were nice, I felt like they weren't dedicated to the work fully: one arrived late to class nearly every day, and another fell asleep during a classmate's presentation. These are forgivable happenings, but I found them surprising at the time.

Outside of Quito, Ecuador is an absolutely beautiful country. It is very small, but from the mountains, to forests, to the sea, everything is worth seeing! I would love to return someday to catch those parts I missed.