IES Abroad Galápagos Islands Direct Enrollment - GAIAS

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About

This direct enrollment program is organized through the Galápagos Academic Institute for the Arts and Sciences (GAIAS), a remote campus of the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) located on the island of San Cristobal. Before you head to the Galápagos, the program will begin with a month in Quito, where you participate in an orientation, classes at USFQ, and field study excursions. The remaining months are spent on San Cristobal in the Galápagos Islands, although additional field study excursions allow you to spend time in other locations, as determined by your chosen track: Evolution, Ecology and Conservation; Marine Ecology; or People, Politics, and the Environment.

Witness the famous land iguanas and giant tortoises as you study the evolution of these unique species. Visit indigenous and traditional Andean communities to better understand the relationship between humans and their environment. Dive into the Pacific to get close to the marine life you will be learning about.

Questions & Answers

The classes are taught in English. But you live with host families, which is a great way to learn Spanish.

Reviews

98%
based on 9 reviews
  • Academics 8.2
  • Support 8.8
  • Fun 9.4
  • Housing 9.1
  • Safety 9
Showing 1 - 9 of 9
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Kira
10/10

Galapagos Islands: Scuba Diving, Sea Lions, and Island Time

IES abroad made sure that everything was taken care of so all I had to do was show up and have the time of my life! Living in the Galapagos is a whole other world; the community is incredibly tight-knit and so kind. Latino culture is extremely warm and living with my host families was an absolutely amazing experience. We bonded over cultural differences and it was an opportunity for me to be immersed in their culture while also being able to teach my families about my own culture. This program is extremely hands-on and research based! If you love being outside this program absolutely takes advantage of being in the Galapagos and each course has a ton of field trips and outdoor excursions so that you really get to know the Galapagos Islands and all they have to offer! If you are scuba certified and in the Marine Ecology track each of your classes has a scuba component too! This program absolutely changed my life and it will change yours too!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Madelyn
9/10

Incredible Experience and Unforgettable Memories

No matter what academic background you may come from, whether it be Marine Science or Political Science, studying in Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands is a must! From the perspective of a biologist, I believe that the Galápagos Islands are the best place in the world to observe evidence of evolution by natural selection, a key part of numerous science disciplines and the basis of life in general. As a student in the Marine Ecology academic track, I participated in research conducted off the coast of mainland Ecuador, as well as in the waters of the Galápagos Marine Reserve and in the labs at the Galápagos Science Center on the island of San Cristóbal. After spending the first month of the program with my wonderful host mom in Cumbayá, San Cristóbal became my home for the next three months of my time abroad. The culture of the island is incredibly rich for its size; there were events sponsored by the national park service and by the local government almost every week. These provided excellent opportunities to experience true “island life” and become a part of the environment and culture in Ecuador. I immediately felt at home with my host families and experienced a perfect balance of having them there for me as a support system but having the independence to explore on my own as well. I spent countless hours traveling around the island and enjoying all it has to offer; a typical day began with a hearty breakfast prepared by my host mom, followed by a beautiful walk to the university, which is located right across the street from a popular beach. After spending the morning in class, my friends and I would venture to the downtown “malecón” area for a bite to eat and then spend the rest of the day working on assignments at the university, spending time at the beach, or snorkeling at a beautiful nearby cove filled with several species of fish, numerous sea turtles, sea lions, marine iguanas and countless other marine organisms. My friends and I befriended many locals, and between sharing meals with them in addition to those spent with my host family, my conversational Spanish improved immensely and I now feel very confident in using my language skill back home. It was incredibly hard for me to leave my new home as the semester came to a close, but I hope more than anything that I will be able to return in the future and help with scientific research and conservation measures.

How can this program be improved?
The IES Abroad office in Quito fo this program is one of the newer once, so it could benefit from some additional resources and support from the main office. Regardless, the staff did an amazing job at supporting the students and mad us feel very comfortable.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Naomi
10/10

Go to the Galapagos!

This program is such an unique and amazing opportunity to live, volunteer and study in the Galapagos Islands! It was the perfect amount of time to live there, and you start to feel like a local instead of just a tourist. The Galapagos has something for everyone. I studied marine ecology, and most of my classes were hands on-- doing academic research dives, snorkeling or hiking around the beaches. The weather was beautiful and our school was across the street from a great sea-lion-filled beach. The food was good, and we had fresh seafood everyday. I definitely want to go back one day!

How can this program be improved?
Allow students to have regular access to a kitchen, provide more activities that integrate with the community, have more organized volunteer opportunities.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Katie
10/10

An incredible semester

One of my favorite parts of studying abroad in Ecuador was the diversity of environments we were lucky enough to experience. We explored the Amazon rainforest, hiked in the Andes mountains, navigated the huge city of Quito, visited tiny villages, chilled on the coast, and of the course, spent three months getting to know the Galápagos Islands in a way that tourists simple aren’t able to. I highly recommend this program for anyone interested in environmental science or policy – it doesn’t even have to be your major – and especially for those who love being outside! The host families that IES placed us in were awesome – my Spanish improved greatly, and I still keep in touch with my Galápagos family. The IES advisors and on-site staff were really wonderful: they helped immensely with my endless questions throughout both the application process and also the actual semester abroad. Also, connecting with new people is the best part of study abroad: I liked and admired one of my professors so much that I ended up staying for an extra six weeks to do research with him. Now, I can’t wait to go back!

How can this program be improved?
I wish there were fewer orientations at the beginning of the program. I also wish we knew how hot it would be on the Galápagos Islands (I knew it would be warm, but it was beyond what I expected). Finally, I wish there were more Spanish classes offered.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Damani
10/10

IES GAIAS Program Spring 2016

My semester abroad with the IES Galapagos Island program was easily one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Ecuador is a beautiful country with an amazing culture and great people, and the Galapagos Islands are truly a wonder of the natural world. The IES Abroad program allowed me to experience what Ecuador had to offer with a lot of freedom while also ensuring my safety and wellbeing. The two host families I lived with were very helpful and friendly, and my living arrangements were extremely nice and comfortable. The classes were engaging, fun and interesting, but also challenging enough that it still felt legitimate for a college level course. In addition all of the fun things to do such as hiking, snorkeling, scuba diving and surfing, IES also had different group activities that were fun and also kept me engaged with the community as well as the other students. Overall, I would recommend this program from anyone who is interested in biology, ecology, environmental science, or social science, who has a love for nature, and who would want to participate in a life changing experience.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Aly
10/10

You're Galapagoing to Love This Program!

In the spring of 2014, I had the incredible opportunity of studying abroad through IES Abroad in Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands. After much hesitation about whether or not to go abroad, I took the plunge and decided to embark on a four-month journey of cultural-, environmental-, and self-awareness. IES welcomed students with an orientation and tour of Quito, the capitol city of Ecuador. We were all placed with appropriate host families, who were carefully handpicked based on our language skills and personal preferences. My Quito family made the transition into another culture as easy as possible, and I missed them when I traveled throughout Ecuador with my new best friends for class or for weekend sightseeing. After a month exploring Quito, we were flown to the Galápagos Islands, as excited as Darwin must have been when he first saw this unique location. Three months were spent on an island paradise, scuba diving for class, bonding with our host families, learning how to salsa dance, taking surfing lessons, and seeing amazing animals. If you're looking for an experience where you'll think everyday is the best day of your life, definitely look into IES Abroad Galápagos Direct Enrollment.

How can this program be improved?
Every island in the Galápagos Islands is different. Even though I got to visit some of the other islands during the spring break, I wish that the classes would have gone to study the other islands. I would have happily payed more to do this because there was no time to get away to other islands on our own.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Galapagos
9/10

I go to school with Charles Darwin!

Ok, I don't actually go to school with Darwin, but I do attend class with Darwin's finches, sea lions, Pacific green turtles and marine iguanas. I can see the ocean from each of the island's three classrooms. I spend every weekend and afternoon snorkeling, scuba diving, hiking, or photographing the incredibly tame wildlife. I eat delicious, three course, three dollar lunches every day. I've learned Spanish by hanging out at the local bar and eating meals with my host family. I love my academic classes, I love my professors, and I love my classmates. A hidden gem of the program: you actually spend the first month in Quito, Ecuador: living in a South American metropolis, spending a week in the Amazon, hiking the Andes, witnessing centuries-old culture and architecture. This program is a DREAM.

How can this program be improved?
The USFQ staff is not always the most responsive. Get used to delayed e-mail replies. If you need something urgently, the best thing to do is find somebody in person and bother them politely until it gets done. Also, one of my classes was incorrectly registered, so triple check your arrangements even if you feel a little obnoxious about it. Better to find out you're in the wrong class BEFORE the plane tickets are bought! (The IES staff, on the other hand, was phenomenal.)
Yes, I recommend this program
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Sarah
10/10

Study in the Galápagos Islands!

I studied abroad with IES in the Galápagos Islands for a semester. It was amazing! We spent the first month in Quito, so we had the opportunity to see the sights and experience the culture of the mainland. The next 3 months were spent on the islands. I felt really safe there, had a great host family, and loved living in a very small town. My classes were great, and I learned a lot! We got to snorkel/dive with sharks and sea turtles, see some unusual plants, and learn about the wildlife - like giant tortoises, marine iguanas, and sea lions! The Galápagos Islands truly are a magical place.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Galaps2011
10/10

Sharks and Tortoises and Sea Lions... Oh My!

This was an amazing program. There are multiple sets of programs, and I was on the Marine Ecology track. The opportunities to assist in research on mangrove restoration, invertebrate diversity, sea lion population trends and more was truly life-changing.

Once we were on the island, I woke up at 5:20 to assist in the sea lion census I did with two other students. This data was then compiled and given to the National Park and scientists working on understanding population dynamics. I'd then eat a huge breakfast, consisting of fresh fruit, yogurt, granola, eggs, toast, and fresh juice. After breakfast, we had three hours of class which would be broken up by breaks on the beach. Our afternoons were full of snorkeling with sea turtles and sea lions.

It was a great introduction to marine science, and a completely life-changing experience. Although the classes were in english, I was able to practice my spanish a lot with my host family.

Yes, I recommend this program

About IES Abroad

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