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Ecuador has an excellent educational community and has more Spanish study abroad programs than any other country in South America. Nestled in the north west corner of South America, Ecuador (Spanish for equator), rests on the middle of the earth and offers a geographically diverse environment. Students can choose from a wide variety of disciplines from Ecuador's prestigious universities, as well as experience the countries specialties. The country is known for salsa (the dance, not the condiment), trekking into the rainforest, tasting the local guinea pig, and hiking great volcanoes.
Though Ecuador is a relatively small country, it is home to an incredible array of biodiversity. This, coupled with a unique culture (a wonderful mix of indigenous, European, and African elements), leads to an unforgettable experience. Students are exposed to the spirited community of Ecuador as well as the enriching experience of life abroad.
Because of Ecuador's popularity as a study abroad destination, you have many options for your study abroad experience--be sure to find a program that best suits YOUR desires and goals.
1) Language: There's never been a more quintessential time to master the Spanish language. With the number of Spanish speakers residing in the US increasingly annually, it is vital that our citizens become bi-lingual. When studying in Ecuador, don't miss out on the opportunity to practice the local language inside AND outside the classroom.
Some programs exist where courses are ONLY taught in Spanish - if you are beginner (or this sounds too scary!), consider a program that includes weekly courses in the Spanish language. For immersion purposes, we definitely recommend a Spanish-only course; it will be difficult at first, but your language skills will improve leaps and bounds, rapidly!
2) Housing: The type of housing you select while studying abroad will actually play a huge role in the overall experience - besides, it's hard to focus on studying if you do not feel comfortable in your surroundings. Some students choose to live in dormitories on campus, whereas others select a more private apartment option. This is totally up to you and should be selected based on your interests.
If you wish to take your program a step further, consider participating in a homestay while you are abroad. The opportunity to be part of an Ecuadorean family will undoubtedly add depth to your experience abroad, and complement your connections to the country. It won't always be easy (and may not always be comfortable), but at the end of your program, you will walk away feeling like you truly took advantage of your experience in Ecuador.
3) Immersion and cultural activities: Some providers will include external field trips and activities in their program fees to complement your experiences in the country. These activities can range from day trips to nearby cities or weekend trips to the Galapagos Islands! If you prefer to create your own itinerary during your program, then I would suggest that you opt to forego the pre-arranged excursions (and instead grab your guide book!). The program providers certainly have a wealth of knowledge and insight to local tourism opportunities, so for some students, tapping into their expertise and allowing them to plan the logistics is much more appealing. In this way, you can just sit back and enjoy!
Do you prefer to the hustle and bustle of city life, or the more quaint, laid-back swing of a rural option? Is the beach calling your name? Know your options, and pick the location that best fulfills your Ecuadorian dream trip!
QUITO: Most study abroad programs in Ecuador are based in Quito, located in the Andean Mountains at 9,200 ft. Quito is the perfect hub for taking field trips because most destinations across the beautiful country can be reached within a day. As the country is heavily connected via roads, an experience in Quito will give you access to various other hot spots in the country.
The city itself is recognized as a UNESCO world heritage sight and is nestled amongst volcanoes (none active, whew!). The vibrant indigenous culture still retained in city's old town center is not to be missed.
GALAPAGOS ISLANDS: Wanting to "get away from it all?" Look no further! The Galapagos Islands have been a muse of mankind's interests and curiosity since their discovery 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador. Study abroad programs here focus on conservation and Spanish study and will give you the unique opportunity to integrate with wildlife. Check out IES Abroad's semester program there.
Does studying abroad sound fabulous but expensive? While it is true, studying abroad can mean added costs, there are still a variety of ways to offset the extra expenses. If you're not up for opening a lemonade stand, I suggest checking out the following scholarships.
Do you think there is something missing in our guide to studying abroad in Ecuador? Contact us and let us know! We want to make sure our information is relevant and up to date.