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IES Abroad Quito Summer - Environmental Studies

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    7

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    4

  • Program Administration

    5

  • Health and Safety

    7

  • Social Life

    9

Studying Outside the Classroom

IES abroad in Quito, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands was the total study abroad experience. My parents called me a “nerd” for wanting to take summer classes, but my experience was not limited to the classroom. I explored the city, in my free time, just like a true Ecuadorian. Having almerzos for $3, going to free concerts in the parks, and trekking around the downtown city center, these experiences might sound unimportant details; however, these memories are the ones which you’ll never forget. Sure I did not know what was in my food or what the musicians were singing, but I do know that through these experiences my group was able to bond more. My group consisted of nine other collegiate students from all across the United States.
At the beginning, we were just like awkward freshman during orientation. Not really knowing what to talk about or what should be our mannerism. It wasn’t until the end when I realized, all the pre-departure nervousness about meeting new people was just an imaginary monster continuously making me doubt myself. As time went on, we slowly became more comfortable with each other. It wasn’t until playing soccer at the Tiputini Biodiversity Station that we came to together finally as a program. Even though we resembled a peccary and even though I scarred my legs, this would be one of the highs on my trips. By the end of the trip, we did highs and lows. And the soccer game was one of my highs. In actuality, the whole trip was a high. Even the “bad” experiences could be laughed about and remembered fondly. Going to Ecuador with IES totally changed my perspective on life, you don’t just come back with souvenirs and pictures. IES allows you to come back with new memories and a new culture which can swirl together. No longer are you a regular American. I lived in Ecuador and I feel completely immersed with the student and local lifestyle.
I plan in my future to return to Ecuador. I want to see how many more memories I can carry with me for the rest of my life. I want to be able to say to my kids, “yes, when I was 20 I traveled by myself to a foreign country without knowing the language.” I want to listen to the song by OneRepublic and agree that I have lived. Hopefully you can travel abroad and see, taste, smell, study, learn, and live. These small things will allow us to truly gain an experience, the same kind of experience which I have gained through IES Abroad. The program was well thought out, from the pre-departure packing list to the farewell dinner. I could not imagine using any other study abroad program than IES.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    7

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    7

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    10

A Whirlwind Tour of Quito and the Galapagos

I would definitely recommend this program to anyone who is interested in Environmental Studies or Biology; I believe those specifically interested in Ecology or the Galapagos would benefit immensely from this program. It is also a good program for those who do not want to miss a semester at their home institution by studying abroad, or for those who would like a small taste of what it is like to be abroad before studying for a longer period of time. Personally, I wish that I had chosen a semester program because I did not want my short time in Ecuador to end.

The weekly (and often biweekly) excursions in Quito and the Galapagos were fantastic - the following is merely a sample of the many excursions we went on: there were overnight stays in exclusive regions of the Amazon, hiking in the páramos of inactive volcanoes, snorkeling around 5 islands in the Galapagos, visiting artisan markets, and walking around in the cloud forests. These excursions, though fun, were really meant to solidify our understanding of what we had learned in class through hands-on work.

There are also two home stay elements to this program - students will stay with a host family in Quito and another host family in the Galapagos, encouraging cultural immersion and practice of the Spanish language. Although it varies by family and student preference, most of the experiences that I have heard about (as well as my own) were generally very positive.

I honestly do not have many critiques of this program; the only thing lacking was free time that did not have any programming (for instance, it was hard to get out and experience life in another region of Ecuador if it wasn't in the programming) and the fact that a number of us needed to commute on public transportation for over an hour just to get to campus. However, despite those small hiccups, this program has really opened my eyes and my heart to the benefits of traveling and cultural immersion.