El Nomad Study Abroad

About

El Nomad is a boutique study abroad company based in Cuenca, Ecuador. Our small size, local knowledge, and flexibility allows us to offer you a much more intimate, personalized experience! All our programs are customizable and fit to your own needs and specifications.

El Nomad envisions a world where people embrace global citizenship and participate in cultures other than their own, which has become invaluable in an increasingly interconnected world. We facilitate the growth of cultural competency through affordable, sustainable academic opportunities, internships, and volunteer experiences designed to introduce new ways of thinking and living.

What are you waiting for? Begin your Ecuador experience by contacting us directly at [email protected], or reach out/follow us on social media. We're on Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Tumblr and would love to hear from you!

Website
www.elnomad.org
Founded
2007

Reviews

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Lydia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My time with El Nomad is something that I will never forget. The support that I received was more than I imagined it could be - by the end of my semester, I felt like I was a true member of the family!
I also participated in several excursions which were always mind-blowing with the scenery and immersion into the culture. Plus, my courses at the Universidad de Cuenca were as challenging as those back home and the students were really friendly and open.

Mandy
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I really enjoyed working with the kids at the after school program. They were a lot of fun and seemed to enjoy having visitors in. I did wish they had a little more structure and had the volunteers helping out with specific things rather than left to figure it out themselves. Other than that though the kids were a lot of fun.

The language classes that were set up for me were great as well. They were set to my level and I was able to have them somewhat tailored to what I wanted to learn.

I loved my homestay family as well. The food was amazing! They treated me like their family member and took me with them exploring to make sure I saw all the little areas in and around Cuenca. It helped me make use my language skills more. I think the program does a great job matching students to the homestays.

What would you improve about this program?
I think the program does a good job of matching people up with their homestay families and checking in on them. I think they could offer more cultural opportunities for participants and make sure to check in with them a little more.
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Morgan
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My days were always jam-packed and I loved that. I was speaking Spanish all day every day except for the last three hours before I went to bed. Weekends were harder since I was here and didn't have much to do. If there were any way to include weekend programs that incorporated language skills, or to recommend places to go, that would be great.

I felt like the university was a bit crazy with schedules. I had no idea when classes would REALLY start and end.

I loved the Foundation. It was hard and the kids difficult at times, but it is 100% what made my Spanish improve the most.

What would you improve about this program?
The attention to students by the staff. I understand the program is still growing and expanding, but attention still needs to be paid to all participants, whether groups or individuals.
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Wes
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Great time at this mom and pop study abroad program. From home-cooked food with the host family, to intimate class experience, to the freedom to adventure and dive into Ecuadorian culture, exploring individual interests with the valuable knowledge and guidance from the El Nomad staff. I had a wonderful time during my two months in Cuenca, Ecuador. There are so many ways one can study through El Nomad. Whether it be an internship, classes, or an awesome and exciting trip, it's always a blast! Love the folk here and the opportunities they are happy to share with students of the world. Best time of my college career, most important trip I've taken. Get out and get in!

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Lanae
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I had a wonderful experience with El Nomad! During my stay with a local host family I was enrolled in one-on-one Spanish classes with a native speaker at la Universidad de Cuenca. I also participated in a human rights internship with a local organization that provides services and support to adults, children, and families challenged by disabilities. All of these environments provided me with continuous opportunities to improve my Spanish and cultural understanding. It was through these experiences that I was able to make incredible and long-lasting connections with locals and really experience the city. El Nomad also provided me with opportunities to see even more of the country through long weekend excursions to the coast of Ecuador and the Amazon Jungle. It was an absolute blast! The El Nomad staff did a fantastic job of providing support while promoting independence abroad. Every part of this experience was personalized and designed to provide me with the experience abroad that I desired.

Additionally, my time in Ecuador has impacted me beyond stay. I came back more culturally and self-aware. I am also a recent college graduate which has made even more evident the significance of this experience. I have been asked at every one of my interviews about my abroad experience and my spanish-speaking abilities. I have no doubt that the experience El Nomad facilitated has made me stand out as a candidate.

Programs

Displaying 1 - 6 of 6

Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Morgan Abate

Morgan grew up in a small town outside of Philadelphia, but was born in Raleigh, North Carolina. When it came time to head back to college, she moved right back to the Tar Heel State and is studying international studies and journalism.

Why did you pick this program?

I chose El Nomad because I knew it would offer me the most authentic, immersive experience in a Spanish-speaking country that I had my eyes on. The El Nomad staff is small, but they have close relationships with every family, many nonprofits, businesses and schools, making the experience entirely local.

What is the most important thing you learned abroad?

Out of all of the things I learned while abroad, I think the most important thing for me was how to be alone. I was the only student studying abroad for five months through El Nomad and found myself alone multiple days and nights. I went exploring by myself, took walks by myself, went to yoga class by myself, or sat and talked with my host mom for hours over hot chocolate and bread.

Even when I did have people to explore or go out with, I learned that being alone is not always bad - it's how you keep yourself sane while being alone that's the hardest part.

What made this experience unique and special?

I loved El Nomad's program because of the independence it gave me. I wasn't tied to a group or a particular schedule. I truly LIVED in a new country by myself, volunteering, meeting new friends, going to yoga classes and making friends with Ecuadorians.

Since I didn't have a program with other students, I kept close to Cuenca, the third largest city in the country, visiting small towns and understanding the many different cultures within just one state of Ecuador. El Nomad helped me choose where to travel and in some cases even planned some excursions for me.

Tell us about an experience you had that you could not have had at home.

Carnaval in Ecuador was by far one of the most fun experiences I had while abroad. I stayed at home with my host family and almost the entire extended family came over for the first day of the festival. We ate, played card games, and threw water on each other. Not only was this an experience I could not have had at home, but it was the experience that made me finally feel welcome.

What was the hardest part about transitioning back to life in the U.S.?

I spent so much time immersed in Ecuador without English. So when I started hearing English all the time again, I felt out of place. I kept wanting to respond in Spanish since I forgot how to say certain phrases in English. I found myself looking for excuses to speak or read Spanish.

It's still hard after a month or so of being back. I miss the simplicity of life, the lack of stress and speaking Spanish 12 hours a day.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Pip Denne

Job Title
El Nomad Regional Manager and Community Development Specialist
Born in the Blue Mountains, Australia, Pip has grown up around adventure, inspiring travel stories and the great outdoors. From India, Japan and all of Southeast Asia to Argentina, Peru, Chile, Bolivia and Ecuador, Pip is always striving to immerse herself within and learn from fascinating and unique cultures. With a BA in Communications, majoring in Social Inquiry and a history of work experience in the field of community development, project management and the facilitation of sustainable international programs, Pip’s ultimate goal in life is to engage in work that contributes positively to the global community.
south america

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

Pip: I think the biggest factor in making a successful company is just the people. People that work hard, work together and that love what they do. I love being a part of a team willing to learn new things, try things out, experiment, take on big tasks and support each other through each and every project. There are always tricks and ways to be more successful, but if you don’t have hard working, kind, efficient and passionate people working together, you’ll never get anywhere!

What language have you always wanted to learn and why​?

Pip: Spanish- of course! I first wanted to learn Spanish because I was attracted to the colorful and vibrant South American culture. I wanted a way to connect to locals, to be a part of everything and to understand a new culture in a way that I knew wasn’t possible without language. The beauty of learning another language is you never stop once you start. Spanish in particular really is so sexy, the expressions, cultural jargon and the way that in not just each country but each REGION, the language is unique.

What unique qualities does your company possess?

Pip: El Nomad really is a company like no other, and that’s why I feel so proud to say that I belong to the team. The people are unique, from all different backgrounds, all with different skills, perspectives and ideas. The services that we offer are unique, I find it inspiring to be a part of a company that values cultural and ethical practice more than making money.

We treat each of our students like friends, which is pretty unique. We love taking them places, teaching them about Ecuador and helping them learn from our culture. And our approach to volunteer work- I find that to be very unique. We develop only sustainable projects and strive each time to grow and develop our organizations. Our partnerships are long-term and we’ve really been able to see the progress made in each of them. We have a special relationship with them and we are accountable to the work that happens there.

What changes would you make to the study abroad industry?

Pip: One of the biggest changes that I would like to happen in the study abroad industry is seeing more students being immersed within truly local experiences. More often than not, study abroad students spend most of their time with other students that are likewise completing a program abroad. While this is not always a negative thing, I would like to providers such as ourselves to put a greater emphasize on facilitating experiences that engage students with local people, culture, food and lifestyle.