Why did you pick this program?
Savannah: I picked this program because it was a mix of all my different interests. I am an environmental science and Spanish double major, and with this program I was able to study both of those things (and get credit toward my majors). I'm also interested in getting involved in research and trying to figure out what aspects of ecology I'm interested in, so I felt like this was a good way to get a jumpstart on that.
Also, I really wanted to get immersed in the culture, so I didn't want to just stay in a dorm with other Americans and take classes from American professors--I wanted the Ecuadorian experience, and that included a homestay!
What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?
Savannah: I say absolutely do it! Studying abroad was one of the greatest experiences of my life, and I would do it over again a million times. Unless you have financial constraints, the question shouldn't be "Should I study abroad?" it should be "How many times should I study abroad?" (I'll also not that in some cases, like mine, studying abroad is cheaper than going to school in the states, so that's a plus.) It's such a wonderful experience that opens your eyes to other cultures and other ways of thinking that you couldn't possibly get in a US classroom.
What was the hardest part about going abroad?
Savannah: Without a doubt, the hardest thing about being abroad was missing my home, family, and friends. Most of the time it wasn't that bad, because we were so busy doing exciting things and having a wonderful time that I felt guilty if I got homesick. But it happens sometimes, especially when you're so far from home. Just try not to dwell on it and enjoy the experience, because when you go home you'll start missing it!
Tell us about an experience you had that you could not have had at home.
Savannah: Just about every experience I had abroad was one that I could not have had at home. Ecuador is such a unique, biodiverse place, and there is so much life there that simply doesn't exist in the US.
Also, my professors were amazing, and getting to laugh and learn with them, my friends, and the local guides while we explore the Amazonian jungles, the Galapagos islands, the museums of Quito, and much more was an experience I will never forget. I loved this program so much!!!
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
Savannah: Spend as much time interacting with Ecuadorians as possible. Talk to your host family all the time, your professors, random people working at the school building, people on the streets (keeping safety in mind)--talk to everyone! I think the one thing I should have done would have been to spend less time working on schoolwork and more time doing things in the city.