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Ecuador: Comparative Ecology and Conservation
SIT Study Abroad participant SIT Study Abroad participant

Ecuador: Comparative Ecology and Conservation

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    8

Best semester yet!

This program was all that I was hoping for and more! In terms of academics, lectures consisted of field lectures and classroom lecture, both of which were in a mixture of Spanish and english. That said, don't expect total language immersion in the classroom. There was a lot of flexibility in this regard and one could write papers in either Spanish or english in many cases. The course load was rather challenging, but I learned more ecology this semester in Ecuador that in the entirety of my undergraduate experience thus far (especially botany) Lectures were also very hands on and we learned a lot about field techniques. However, despite claiming to be a program about conservation, this program was definitely highly skewed towards ecology! Beware: I did not receive any Spanish credit from this program because my institution would only accept credit if I was placed in the upper two Spanish classes (which was unfortunate because the placement process was rather unfair and from what I could tell the different leveled classes differed very little). Regardless, I loved most of all the opportunity to do an independent study project at the end of the term. While a common complaint about SIT programs in general is that the ISP is underwhelming, that was not the case for me in this program! It was a wonderful opportunity to conduct my own research, connect with people in the community, and learn how to be independent in Ecuador.

My living situation was with a host family which was also a wonderful experience! It was very immersive in Spanish and the culture and really challenged me to focus on family along with academics—something thats harder to do if you are living at a university away from a family as many of us do in the US.

Cultural immersion in this program was pretty good! Our professors and advisors did what they could to try to educate us about norms and make us less like tourists and more like part of the community. However, I would have loved more of a focus here!

There was wonderful student support in this program as well and professors and advisors genuinely cared about each student! Within our group, we cared about each other as well, so I always had somewhere to turn if I needed help in anyway!

Quito and the rest of Ecuador seemed rather safe to me. In our program there was one or two safety incidents (robbing), but they were resolved and no one got hurt. Its just important to keep safety in mind here and be smart.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Community

    10

Memories, friends, and family to last a lifetime

If you love nature/ecology and being outdoors, but you're also interested in foreign cultures and Spanish, this is the perfect program for you. This program provides the best sort of combination between outdoors field experiences with strong science and city living. When I began this program, I was most excited for all of the excursions to the different ecosystems Ecuador has to offer, which I promise will not disappoint--Ecuador is truly a beautiful and special place to be! I swam among river dolphins in the Amazon and with sea turtles and sea lions in the Galapagos. We hiked mountains in the paramo next to glaciers and in the cloud forests, tracking signs of Andean bears. What I didn't realize was how I would also fall in love with the culture and how I would come to feel at home with my host family in Quito, whom you live with between excursions. I quickly became integrated into my host brother's friend group, and I would join them to the movies, the discotheque, or pick-up soccer games. Typically, science majors go on this program, and typical science-y study abroad programs are mostly in the field, and often away from people. This program is so special, because you are focused on science and conservation in class, but you also get to experience the Quito way of life by living with a family, and you will become so much more intimately aware of the culture.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

Ecology in Ecuador

This program was perfect for me--as someone who is very interested in ecological and conservation science, Ecuador was the ideal place to be. Ecuador has a variety of different ecosystems, including tropical rainforest, mountain highlands, cloud forests, and the Galapagos, all of which I got to visit on this program. A few of my highlights were: swimming with penguins and sea lions in the Galapagos, birdwatching on a canopy-level platform in the Amazon rainforest, and seeing a jaguar from our boat along the Napo river. My favorite part about the program itself was definitely the experiential learning style that was emphasized. We had lectures from renowned scientists in Quito (our home base) which were balanced out and enhanced by our in-the-field lectures, where we could learn about all the plants and animals that we were actually seeing in their natural habitat. If you're someone who loves being outside and learning about the nature around you, this program will be a good fit.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Community

    10

An absolutely amazing semester!

I don't study science, so this program was a bit of a stretch for me to start. That said, I had the best semester of my life. I learned all about the diverse ecosystems of one of the most amazing countries on the planet, visited the páramo (highlands), cloud forest, Amazon, and the Galápagos, made 20 incredible friends, learned from several amazing professors, and grew to love my homestay family. What more could you ask for?

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    9

Fantastic program! Would do it over a million times

This program was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience. From the excursions to the wonderful homestays, every aspect of the semester was fantastic. At the end of the semester we each got to do an independent study project for a month, which was a great opportunity and life-changing experience. After this semester, I felt more confident, more fluent in Spanish, and more experienced with environmental science--and I had a great time!!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    7

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Community

    9

Learning Ecology in the Field in Ecuador!

SIT Ecuador: Comparative Ecology and Conservation is a phenomenal program for students looking to learn more about ecology and to learn Spanish better while continuing to study biology. The excursions are the best part of the program, and you get to travel to the Galapagos, the Amazon, the Cloud Forest, and the paramo (an ecosystem high in the mountains that are mainly grasslands). Moreover, you get to spend a month doing an independent study, and it is a great time to learn about scientific methods and research, while becoming very independent.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

Amazing experiences!

I learned so much through this program that I never would have learned at my home college because of the program's focus on experiential field learning. The field excursions are their own reason to do this program--we got to go to a cloud forest and a high-altitude paramo on the slopes of the tallest volcano in Ecuador, not to mention our week-long trips deep into the Amazon and the Galapagos Islands! These were phenomenal experiences and we got to experience these places in a way that simple tourists would never be able to. My Spanish also got a lot better through talking with my host family.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Community

    9

An experience so amazing!

This is a hard one, as there are many amazing moments. Overall, my experience during ISP will be the most memorable. I spent a month in a small village, where I was immersed in the life of an Ecuadorian family. This experience was so different from my daily life in the US, and I had lots of time to ponder my own life while I was there. Conducting an independent research project successfully was also a valuable experience for my personal and academic development.

I wanted to go to a Spanish speaking country and learn about ecology and conservation, with opportunity to travel. This was the perfect program for my interests.

While in Quito, I lived with a host family in the Northern end of town. I had my own bedroom and they provided me three meals a day. Their apartment was 30-40 minutes away from our classroom building. I also stayed in hostels, 2 very short-term rural home-stays, and a month long rural home-stay during my ISP.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Health & Safety

    8

  • Community

    9

An Amazing Experience!

I would recommend this program to anyone interested in ecology and conservation, with some sense of adventure. I wasn't sure what to expect from my experience, but ended up incredibly happy with my time there. I can't deny that there are flaws in the program, but I enjoyed almost every moment in Ecuador and feel lucky to have seen and learned things that I would not have otherwise.

Overall Rating

8/ 10

  • Community

    3

  • Health & Safety

    7

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    4

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Academics

    7

Excursioning in Ecuador's Wilds

The highlight of this program is definitely the excursions, my favorites being to a cloud forest lodge and an Amazonian lake. The former had a ridiculous number of hummingbirds, some of which landed on my hand, while the latter had water birds, caimans, and millions of fireflies. The independent study project was also great; I was high in the mountains studying birds and it was a fantastic field research opportunity. That being said, I found the academics (barring the independent study) to be quite easy, especially the ecology and biology. However, I found the botany portion interesting, as I was not familiar with plant families before the program. Also, traveling so much with other Americans reduces the chances for immersion, going out, and language learning, but I was there for the flora and fauna, so that trade off was totally fine.