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IES Abroad Quito Direct Enrollment - USFQ

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    10

Me fui a volver ...

Being from Ecuadorian heritage, I always wanted to experience what it would be like to really live the life there and be immersed in the culture. Well, IES Abroad Quito provided all that and more for me. The staff was welcoming and helpful from the day I flew in to Quito unti the sad day that I had to say good-bye. I had an advantage to the rest of the students, as I had already visited the country multiple times and am also a Spanish speaker, but even so, there was a lot for me to learn as an incoming student! The staff at IES made sure to give us a tour of the city and Universidad San Francisco de Quito, it was like having my parents take me to the firsts day of school, and making sure that I felt comfortable enough to stay by myself. Academically, the system at USFQ is something outside of what I had been familiar with in the states. To clarify, the treatment is "horizontal", the professors treat the students as peers not as anything inferior, there is a great degree of mutual degree and respect between professors and students. All of my professors were AMAZING, they were genuinely intrigued and interested in giving off every piece of knowledge they had to their students. IES also offers an internship/service learning class where we get to really get immersed into the ecuadorian culture by volunteering in a community or in some kind of organization. This truly gave me the opportunity to not only indulge in something that would later be beneficial for my career, but it put me smack dab in the middle of the cultural commotion. During my internship at a wildlife animal rescue at USFQ, I met many professors, activists, and students that taught me more than I could ever read in a book about Ecuador; the biodiversity, cultural contexts, the language (and slang). The program made sure to show us around the beautiful Andean country with trips to the Amazon, the Darwinian islands of Galápagos, and also supported trips through small towns and sceneries that deem unforgettable for me. All of this was available to me through IES and it was great to know that I had their full support all the way through my journey! There is a saying in Ecuador that has stuck, and it truly signifies what the country and the people have left in me: the desire to go back... Me fui a volver.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    5

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    8

  • Social Life

    10

Life in Quito

I had an amazing experience with IES Abroad Quito-Direct Enrollment. The on-site staff is incredibly caring, fun to be around, and has lots of advice to give. Although I did not ask them for much help and didn't have to resolve any problems at school, I felt comfortable knowing that they were available and able to help in case something came up. Having a "home-base" in Quito (the program building) definitely contributed to how much I enjoyed my experience. Although the direct enrollment program was quite small, the area studies program was there at the same time, and I could always count on someone being in the building if I wanted to hang out. We always met up at the building, studied together in the computer room, or once we even made empanadas with the entire program and the on-site staff there. I loved having a non-public place to go to in Quito other than my homestay, to get a change of scenery for studying, etc. Although I enjoyed only half of my classes at the local university (next time I would ask more students about the professors), I think the opportunity to direct enroll added another cultural level to my experience. Students at the university come from a much wealthier economic background than other Ecuadorians we usually encountered in the city. It was also interesting to observe the classroom atmosphere, how professors teach in varied styles, to see how the emphasis on certain assignments is different, and to see the students' perspective on school compared to its importance at my home university. A high level of Spanish is very helpful in classes with exclusively Ecuadorians. These classes are challenging but also helped me improve immensely, as the topics were new (such as the Ethnohistory of Ecuador) and there was also never an excuse to speak English. Living in a homestay, taking part in the Service Learning component of the program, and attending the local university, gave me a varied perspective on social and economic classes in Quito and helped me better contextualize the Ecuador's diversity, which we learned about in my Service Learning class. I also loved the field trips IES took us on and appreciated the freedom we had to travel on the weekends with friends.
I especially enjoyed the last two months in Quito!! I had made amazing friends from the program that I knew incredibly well at that point, but had also gotten to know Ecuadorians well enough to spend time with them after school, which was great for practicing Spanish! I loved exploring Quito, and would definitely recommend this program to anyone! I didn't want to leave!!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Social Life

    10

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Academics

    10

Full Ecuadorian Immersion

If I had to pick one experience that was truly amazing, it would be during our trip to the Galapagos Islands. We spent one afternoon exploring one of the uninhabited islands where we saw a ton of wildlife that only exist on there. The best part was when we snorkeled along the coast where the sea lions swim about freely. I was face to face with a baby sea lion, swimming back and forth as he played with me. It was an incredible experience I will never forget.

I chose IES Abroad Quito because I wanted a challenging program that was direct enrollment so as to experience the full immersion of being a student in such a unique country (though the difficulty of the program truly depends on the courses selected, however, and is up to the student). The IES trips also drew me in, as traveling to the Amazon and Galapagos Islands are a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Lastly, the Spanish spoken in Quito is very clear and easy to understand and pick up, as opposed to other cities in Spain and Latin America.

I lived in a homestay which consisted of a mother and four daughters, though only one lived in the home as the other three were older. The family I was placed with was more liberal than the average Ecuadorian family, which is known to be religious and conservative. This is a stereotype, though the country truly is very religious and, like many developing countries, still in the process of being open to modern ideas. My host family was supportive and made me feel part of their family from the moment I arrived. They were probably the number one reason I absolutely loved the time I spent in Quito and was devastated to have to leave at the end of the semester.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health and Safety

    6

  • Social Life

    10

Full Emersion in Ecuador

IES Quito Direct Enrollment is the ideal program for students with a fairly strong background in Spanish looking to vastly improve their language abilities. The level of immersion is ideal in that students take all of their courses at a local university (arguably the best in Ecuador) and therefore can easily make Ecuadorian friends and become integrated into Quiteño life. Furthermore, the university has a huge international student population, making for an easier transition and a wide offering of courses (Spanish, cultural, etc.) geared toward exchange students.