Study Abroad in Guayaquil

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A Guide to Studying Abroad in Guayaquil

Guayaquil, officially called Santiago de Guayaquil, is located on the Guayas River near the Pacific Ocean and is the largest and most populous city in Ecuador with over two million inhabitants. From tasting Arroz con Menestra y Carne Asada (rice with lentils and grilled beef) to watching a football game at Estadio Monumental Banco Pichincha, you’ll come to love this growing city. The people are welcoming, the universities are open to international students, and the geographic diversity of the region is alluring, so you’ll be choosing wisely to study abroad in Guayaquil.

How to Study Abroad in Guayaquil

There are several great study abroad organizations that have made Guayaquil their base in Ecuador. Many of the programs combine studying with service, and with its large street children populations, nearby wildlife sanctuaries, and major urban eco-projects, you’ll have plenty of options in this arena. 

Popular Subjects to Study. Whether you’re a student of liberal arts, business, or technology, you’ll find courses to take that are right up your alley. Spanish is one of the most popular fields to study in Guayaquil, and with the number of Spanish-speaking residents rising in the U.S., you’ll want to take advantage of that opportunity here. Other popular subjects to study include travel and tourism and Latin American studies

Short Term vs. Summer vs. Long Term Programs. You can choose to take courses throughout the year, in the fall, spring and winter, or even during spring break. Nearly all of the programs are offered in the summer as well, and many include service-learning opportunities, but if you’re interested in learning Spanish, it’s recommended to stay for the full academic year

Attending Universities vs. Other Program Types. You could choose to directly enroll in the University of Guayaquil or one of its many other higher education institutions, through your own university, or through a third-party program provider. Make an appointment with your study abroad advisor at your university to help you decide the best type of program that will meet your personal and educational needs.

Student Life in Guayaquil

The author of Guayaquil’s rebirth was a project called Malecon 2000. Utilizing city sales taxes, a massive project began on the city’s Guayas River waterfront. It grew and grew, starting with parks and museums. Botanical gardens, cafes, tall ships, and gorgeous outdoor living spaces were born. The Malecon project spread upwards — literally — with a revitalization of the hillside shanties into a colorful walk of coffeehouses, gift shops, and bakeries. Even the island in the middle of the river has been established as an eco-sanctuary, with the indigenous population living as they always have and outsiders leaving at dusk.

Guayaquil now is able to compete with Quito for visitor attention with its beautiful riverfront that features art, outdoor cafes, theatres, parks, and a fantastic riverwalk. Massive shrimp catches from the city’s fisheries industry means the restaurants are serving delicious ceviche — a zesty local delicacy. Other industries have grown, and Guayaquil has become a jumping-off point for tourism hotspots like the Galapagos, the Amazon, and more mountainous destinations like Cuenca.

GoAbroad Insider Tips

Most of the points of interest you’ll want to see in Guayaquil are in the downtown area, so venturing the area on foot is ideal, and you’ll be relatively safe in the area during the day. You can also get around the city using a taxi (avoid yellow ones) and via bus (Metrovi), where you can purchase a single ticket for as low as a quarter. 

For those foodies looking for local treats, you’ll want to try some surf & turf: ceviche (raw seafood), churrasco (grilled steak), encebollado (fish stew), and pan de yuca (bread) on the side. If you’re a night owl, you’ll love the nightlife options here as well, especially Las Penas, Kennedy Mall, and Zona Rosa, which is a strip of bars and discotecas

There are more obvious places to study in South America, and Guayaquil may not be on your first wish list — but it’s definitely worth considering. You won’t run into American tourists every day, and there’s plenty to do beyond the classroom. Whether you’re exploring Parque Seminario’s fountains and trees, Malecon 2000’s shopping mall and IMAX theatre, or Las Penas’ lighthouse and art galleries, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to practice Spanish when you’re studying in Guayaquil. 

Read our comprehensive guide on studying abroad in Ecuador.

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