Quito lies just a few miles from where the Equator bisects the earth and its bustling atmosphere and historical sites lure interest from both sides. The city itself is also divided into two parts, the new city and the old city. Both give off a modern vibe intertwined with a traditional feel. The new city is home to Quito’s main shopping district, many universities and the Ecuador Supreme Court. The old city contains remnants of the Spanish colonial era, enriched with monasteries and churches. The entire downtown has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Geography & Demographics
Quito is located in the northern part of Ecuador at the base of the Andes Mountains. The city surrounds Volcán Pichincha, an active volcano with two green slopes that shoot up from alongside the city. Quito has a population of around 1.5 million. Being so close to the equator, the temperature in Quito is constant. The city generally experiences warm mild days and cool nights.
Food & Culture
The Andean traditions, many of which still thrive in the mountains, have definitely impacted the city’s culture and diet. The variety and popularity of maíz, or corn, is surprising. Find it in dozens of different sizes and colors from small deep purple kernels to bulbus light yellow cobs. Corn is a very important part of their diet, it is an addition to almost any meal and sold on many street corners. Potatoes are another important staple; they are used for main and side dishes and are cooked about any way imaginable. All meat is popular but pork is served most frequently. For a sample of a seafood specialty, try ceviche! Ceviche is raw fish that is marinated in lemon juice and many different seasonings. It is typically served with a variety of raw veggies and a potato. Ceviche is one of the most popular and talked about dishes in all of Ecuador.
Since 2000 the official currency of Ecuador, Quito included, has been the Dollar of the United States which replaced the Sucre. All normal denominations of bills and coins are circulated.
The official language of Ecuador is Spanish and there is also a large portion of the population that speak the native language of Quechua. North Quito is one of the few places in the country where English is widely spoken because it is the more touristy area. Quito can be an excellent place to learn Spanish because of this. Plus, they are known for speaking slow and clear Spanish.
Quito offers many different transportation options in order to get around this exciting city. Public transportation is very accessible and affordable. The routes can be a little overwhelming as in most cities, but Quiteños are generally very helpful and willing to point you in the right direction. The city offers transport by taxi, trolley, train, or bus. But, don’t underestimate your own two feet which can often be the best way to take in the sites.
Studying in Quito
Most of Quito’s university courses are taught in Spanish. It’s recommended that you have at least a basic foundation of Spanish in order to be successful in Quito universities. The majority of professors speak English and usually advanced courses offer English readings, but the discussion will be in Spanish.
Universidad San Francisco de Quito hosts an abundance of international students. Studying in this university allows a great opportunity to connect and meet with students from all around the world. There are a variety of courses to choose from, so no matter what the major, students are sure to find classes that will suit their academic needs. This university is also home to the largest library found in Ecuador. Most of the education programs for Universidad San Francisco de Quito will offer an orientation for the university upon arrival. This will help the ease of immersion as well as open doors for opportunities to get involved in this school. Various clubs and events are easy to join.
The most common accommodations in Quito are homestays. Study abroad programs carefully place all of their students with safe and secure homestays. Students have the chance to become part of a Quiteña familia! Daily meals, laundry accommodations, as well as utilities are often included.
The CISabroad-Semester in Ecuador program is offered year round through the Universidad San Francisco de Quito. Students can choose between classes in everything from anthropology to culinary arts and will study alongside local and other international students. The program provides students with a homestay, tuition, insurance, and much more. There are also many scholarships available. Students can receive discounts for applying early, home school affiliations, or volunteering.
Another international opportunity is offered through SIT, an organization that focuses on field based education abroad. Their Ecuador: Comparative Ecology and Conservation program involves students in the worldwide issue of balancing development and conservation strategies. It is offered in both the fall and spring semesters. Undergraduates will take excursions to the Andes Mountain, explore cloud forests, and trek in the Amazon Jungle. Classes include ecology, botany, environmental management, Spanish, and more related areas. The program includes a homestay as well as one week of housing in the the Intag Cloud Forest. Students are required to have some sort of significant preparation related to environmental studies.