Want to mountain bike in the Andes, take a dip in natural hot springs, and zipline through a lush cloud forest all in the same day? Then head to Ecuador for study abroad! For environmental science, Spanish language, wildlife studies, or international business, more and more students are choosing to study abroad in Ecuador, a friendly affordable country with amazing natural resources.
Read on to learn four reasons to come here ASAP as an international student, as well as a few extra studying abroad in Ecuador tips!
Why study abroad in Ecuador?
1. Immense Natural Beauty
Its small size (about as large as the state of Nevada) means it’s easy to get around. Its diversity of wildlife is astounding: Ecuador makes up only 1.6 percent of South America in land size, but boasts more than 50 percent of the continent’s bird species. A large section of the Amazon jungle and the famous Galápagos Islands belong to Ecuador. Studying abroad in Ecuador makes sense for anyone fascinated with wild, abundant nature.
And TBH, it also helps that their animals are just so darn cute. Look at them!
2. The Capital is a World Heritage Site!
Ecuador’s capital, Quito, is nestled in the Andes under the watch of the towering volcano Pichincha. Its Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is easily walkable. The city has numerous buses (25 cents per ride) and taxis ($3 for a trip across town). Not-to-miss attractions for students who decide to study abroad in Quito include:
- The Basilica - where the rickety wooden stairs up the clock tower are still open to visitors
- Plaza Independencia - a beautiful central square that symbolizes the country’s independence from Spanish conquerors
- The museum of Oswaldo Guaysamin - the famed painter and social justice champion
- La Mitad del Mundo - the monument on the Equator a few miles north of Quito
- The Teleferico - a cable car ride up the Pinchincha volcano high above the city
And this is just scratching the surface. There is plenty to see and discover while you study in Ecuador—we too are wondering which spot will end up your favorite. ☺️
3. It Boasts an Amazing Language & Culture
Spanish is the language of the land, but many Ecuadorians speak English, and many indigenous languages are spoken in the countryside. If one of your goals is to improve your Spanish language proficiency while studying abroad, you'd be hard pressed to find another destination with such immense opportunity for immersion—and an accent that is easy to learn with! (*Shakes fist at Argentina*). Studying here is truly a great opportunity for students to learn Spanish and practice speaking with native speakers. Ecuador’s currency is the U.S. dollar, making currency conversion a no-brainer for Americans studying in Ecuador.
The country’s cuisine has flavors for every palate: fresh fruit drinks and abundant salads, beef and chicken dishes, spiced plantains, and beans and rice. For the adventurous, there’s guinea pig and fried grubs. And did we mention the ceviche?! Yes—you'll love living in a country with fresh, ample ocean seafood.
4. There are Top-Notch Study Abroad Programs
Most study abroad programs in Ecuador utilize the Ecuadorian universities for direct enrollment opportunities. The Universidad San Francisco de Quito enrolls many U.S. and international students, and is the first private liberal arts university in the Andean region.
Universidad San Francisco de Quito’s beautiful campus houses a world-class library, wireless access, modern classrooms, a variety of restaurants, and sports fields; Soccer is a national passion! Courses in human rights, politics and tropical marine biology are particularly popular.
Particularly awesome programs here include:
- AIFS Study Abroad in the Galápagos, Ecuador (January Term) | Read 3 Reviews
- IES Abroad Quito - Area Studies & Language | Read 6 Reviews
- CISabroad Semester in Quito | Read 10 Reviews
- API Ecuador Service-Learning Summer Program
Next steps to studying in Ecuador
Don't pack your bugspray juuuust yet. There are a few items on your study abroad to do list you should check off first.
Decide where to go. Figuring out where to study abroad in Ecuador isn’t easy. The gorgeous Galápagos? Somewhere in Quito? Don't let the birds of paradise hold you back—choose a place that's right for you.
Your major courses or something more fun and experiential? You don't only have to take classes that pertain to your major back home (though it never hurts to knock out some credits towards graduation). Look at your course options and decide what combination of required classes and just-for-fun-or-because-you-want-to-learn-it classes are out there. Choose from business, the sciences (like conservation!), education, psychology, and more!
Choose from the best study abroad programs in Ecuador. Pay attention to past participants’ reviews, program/university reputation, location, and your ease of getting credits. Some schools or providers may even provide contact info for student ambassadors or past international students if you want the REAL dirt. Here’s our guide to choosing between study abroad programs in Ecuador.
Plan your finances. Sort out funding before you go to afford daily essentials and splurge in travel (in addition to program costs and airfare). Do your research to have an idea of how much your study abroad program will cost.
Talk to your home university. Getting all your ducks in a row is largely dependent on what your home university requires. Talk to a study abroad advisor or the equivalent at your university to see what choices are available to you.
You're now ready to study in Ecuador!
The wildlife, diversity of study and service learning options, and friendly people of Ecuador await. Follow the above steps to get the ball rolling on your incredible experience in Ecuador. Shine bright in the Luz de América ("Light of America")!