One of the most enticing destinations in South America is the Galapagos Islands, a string of fascinating volcanic islands and islets off the coast of Ecuador that are enriched with culture, activities, friendly people, and astounding natural beauty and diversity. From land iguanas to tortoises to blue-footed boobies and hundreds of other species, you might just feel like you’re on a different planet while you’re here! Why not study abroad in the Galapagos Islands, which plays host to a variety of educational programs that accommodate many different majors?!
How to Study in the Galapagos Islands
Most study abroad programs in the Galapagos Islands involve hands-on learning and interactions with its remarkable plant and animal species. With the rise in tourism on the Galapagos Islands, students will also be able to practice their Spanish with the local Ecuadorians that work there as well.
Popular Subjects. From liberal arts courses to business courses, you can find a huge range of options for courses that tickle your fancy. Some of the most popular subjects to study in the Galapagos Islands include environmental studies, service-learning opportunities, and Spanish. Most of the programs involve assisting the community to learn more about island ecology and the conservation and sustainability needs.
Summer vs. Long-Term Programs. From any season to a full year, you’re the captain of how much time you want to spend studying on a UNESCO World Heritage Site with no natural predators. Many summer programs offer courses related to biology, zoology, and ecology, where students will learn how the islands came to be and will be able to study the amazing diversity of plant and animal life that inspired Charles Darwin’s studies on species evolution. One of the most beneficial classes you can take for a year would be Spanish, where you can live with a host family and become more fluent with intensive language classes from dedicated instructors.
Attending Universities vs. Other Program Types. Some students might choose to directly enroll in the The Galapagos Academic Institute for the Arts and Sciences or other higher education institutions in Ecuador. Others might opt to study abroad through their own university or through a program provider. Determine your goals and need before choosing the right program type for you.
Student Life in the Galapagos Islands
This archipelago made up of 19 islands offers visitors a diverse range of landscapes from lava tubes to pirate caves. From hiking to cliff diving, these islands will enchant you as you encounter a plethora of species. Keep in mind that the busiest times of year are between June-August and December-January, but if you’re looking to spot amazing marine species, then study here between June-November.
Modes of transportation are abundant in the Galapagos Islands, depending upon if you want to stay and explore one island or if you would like to hop multiple islands. The most popular modes of inter-island transportation include buses, taxis, and bicycles. The transportation system in Galapagos Islands makes it easy to travel from one island to another. They offer water taxis, boats, and a local airline called Emetebe.
There is no need to worry about converting money because Ecuador accepts U.S. currency, including coins. Be sure to carry some small bills for tipping and coins for exact amounts, otherwise they will round to the next dollar, as coins are a rare find in Ecuador. Credit cards are accepted as well in the Galapagos Islands.
GoAbroad Insider Tips
Your time studying abroad in the Galapagos Islands will truly be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so make sure you do ample research before you go to know exactly what you should pack and what you’ll want to see; bring insect repellant and sunscreen, take plenty of pictures while you’re there, and take small ships to see places that big ships can’t — there may be choppier waters (nausea medication can help), but there will also be less waiting times.
Also, make sure you do plenty of snorkeling or scuba diving, especially at Los Tuneles, where you can spot seahorses and manta rays! If you’re on a budget, avoid studying here during the busy tourist seasons, as the Galapagos Islands can be a bit pricey because everything is imported, so avoid cruise ships as well. You’ll get the most bang for your buck with a study abroad program here, as they usually cover tuition, housing, meals, and VIP excursions.
Whether you’re venturing here via a small plane or a small boat, your voyage here will be well worth your time. While you’re studying in the Galapagos Islands, you can explore more than 50 land sites and snorkel or scuba dive more than 60 spots. Where else can you see penguins in the tropics at a place that inspired the theory of natural selection?!