Known for its beautiful landscapes and diverse plant and animal life, Ecuador has several different options for high school students looking to study, volunteer, or explore the beautiful terrain.
Spend time abroad in Ecuador while you are in high school to experience the Galapagos Islands while volunteering, live with a host family in Quito and attend classes alongside Ecuadorian students, or embark on a rewarding community service project in a local Quechua community.
Ecuador is great for outdoorsy students who have an interest in the environment and biodiversity, love latino culture and history, and want to practice their Spanish.
Students who want to spend time in Ecuador while they're in high school can choose from:
- Study Abroad
- Language Immersion
- Summer Programs
- Teen Travel
Spend a semester or year abroad in Quito, Cuenca, or a more remote village in the mountains. You'll be directly enrolled in a local high school while getting to know Ecuadorian culture better by living with a host family. Most students love learning about Ecuador's history while practicing their Spanish language skills.
Ecuador has volunteer opportunities for students with all sorts of interests, whether it be working on a farm to help harvest crops, teaching English to children, working on construction projects to build homes in low-income areas, or helping local environmental groups in the Galapagos Islands.
Eager to enhance your Spanish skills? A month-long hands-on language immersion program may be just what you're looking for. Spend part of your summer living in the city outskirts, getting to put your skills to use on community service projects. Students looking to practice their language immersion for a longer period of time can enroll in a semester, yearlong, or gap year program. Most programs require at least two years of previous Spanish speaking experience.
The majority of volunteer and service learning programs take place over the summer, lasting anywhere from one week to three months. While in Ecuador for the summer, you can choose from several different service project options, teen travel programs, or language immersion, depending on your interests. Instead of living with one host family, most students who enroll in summer programs get to spend time with several host families while visiting different cities or villages throughout Ecuador, as a traveling learning component of their program.
Want to see more of South America? Then a teen travel program is right for you! Explore the Amazon in Ecuador and Incan ruins in Peru in one summer. Spend your spring semester traveling through Bolivia, Peru, Galapagos Islands, and Ecuador. You can even spend an entire year abroad at sea, making stops in the countries you learn about in your books. Most of the teen travel programs include outdoor adventures, like white water rafting, scuba diving, hiking, or camping, to name a few.
Not convinced yet? Thrillist gives us 8 Reasons You Need to Visit Ecuador.
Planning Your Trip
According to the US Department of State, students traveling to Ecuador for 90 or fewer days will not require a visa, though it is advised to have proof of return, such as an airline ticket with you when you arrive. Students who enroll in longer term programs will require a visa, but program providers will help with the logistics of obtaining one.
The majority of students will stay in homestays during their time abroad. This is a great way to learn more about Ecuadorian life, food, language and culture. Students who enroll in volunteer, summer, or travel programs will stay in guest houses with their fellow classmates but will also likely have the chance to stay with a host family for a week, or weekend.
Program costs varies depending on duration and program type. A year-long exchange program ranges from $8,100-$13,995, and semester programs range from $5,600- $12,995. Summer, volunteer, and teen travel programs range from one week to three months, and can cost between $1,750- $8,995.
Ecuador uses the USD, and an average lunch can cost between $2.50-$3.50, and dinner for two can cost between $18-30. Like in the US, tipping is expected in nice restaurants. Most fancy dining options will include a 10% service charge to your bill, but if service was great, you could always add 5% more.
Electricity in Ecuador is the same as in the US (120V) so you will likely not need to bring a converter or adapter for your electronics. Appliances like blow dryers, however, have a higher wattage, so using a converter will prevent them from burning out. You could always save room in your suitcase though and buy a cheap blow dryer in Ecuador if you find that you need one.
Ecuador has three distinct tourist seasons, high season which lasts from June - September and is typically sunny with few showers, shoulder season which lasts from October-November and is cooler but dry, and low season from December-May with cool temperatures and rain.
Because of Ecuador's diverse terrain, it's recommended that students pack the following:
- Comfortable walking hiking shoes
- A bathing suit
- Rain jacket
- Clothes that mix and match well in layers
- One or two nice outfits
Health & Safety
According to The Travel Vaccination Companion, it is recommended that travelers get vaccinated for Yellow fever, Cholera, Tuberculosis, Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Rabies prior to entering Ecuador.
Ecuador is known for its earthquakes and tsunamis, and on-site staff and host families are there to ensure the safety of students. For this reason, travel insurance, like that from WorldNomads, is good to have. Travel insurance will cover students in the event of a natural disaster or evacuation -- not just for medical related issues.
Aside from Mother Nature, students traveling to Ecuador should be aware of their surroundings in big cities, and always keep their debit and credit cards in a safe place in case of pick-pocketing.