A place that’s bonded to two hemispheres, Ecuador offers foreign students a well-rounded study overseas experience. No other place captures the country’s diverse elements as well as Quito, the capital city and gateway to an array of cultural learning experiences.
Students of history will thrive in Quito, a city that effortlessly blends old world with new, while those completing coursework in the natural sciences may find Quito an ideal base for research in the Galápagos. Additionally, Latin American Studies and Spanish language majors will enjoy supplementing their classwork with real-world interactions.
From there, Quito comes alive in its streets and the surrounding area. Most notably, the old quarter is revered as a display of the capital’s diverse roots. Other Quito staples highlight the city’s connection with its unique geographical features, like the Monument to the Equator or nearby Pichincha volcano. Quito is undoubtedly an exciting place to call home for a semester or more.
From the unique confluence of cultures to one-of-a-kind local cuisine, Quito has captured the hearts of many an international student.
Culture & Immersion
As the home of one of UNESCO’s inaugural World Heritage Sites, Quito certainly sets the bar for overseas cultural experiences. Students will have a window to the past in the old historic center, a quarter that fuses European and Incan influences in local art and architecture.
Over at the National Museum, students will learn about indigenous culture and the impact of European colonialism on Ecuador’s development. Of course, living in a modern city, students will be able to experience firsthand how Quito’s many diverse characteristics come to life in the present day.
Culture Shock & Support
It’s normal to experience a dash of culture shock when traveling overseas. As long as you don’t let your anxieties get the best of you, it won’t be long before you find yourself enamored with Quito. You can beat culture shock by looking into your program’s guidance options, connecting with your fellow students, or setting out to explore Quito, reminding yourself what this trip is all about.
Ecuador is home to many religions, with Quito home to a large Catholic population. During the course of your program, you may encounter citywide religious celebrations around holidays like Easter and Christmas. Additionally, the cuisine is guaranteed to be a highlight of living in Ecuador’s capital -- be sure grab a bite of traditional llapingachos, also known as potato pancakes, while you’re there.
Insider Tips on Studying in Quito
While Quito isn’t immune to the usual risks of city living, it’s overall a safe place to study overseas. One pesky thing that students may encounter is altitude sickness -- living at over 9,000 feet, headaches and nausea might haunt your first few days in Quito. Hydration, sleep, and ibuprofen should help while you adjust, and you’ll feel back on top of the world in no time.
If your heart is set on Quito, then it’s time to take your first steps towards studying overseas. This section will cover programs, accommodation, and getting around Quito.
There are many different types of programs that study abroad students elect to undertake. For direct enrollment courses, you’ll apply to a Quito institution yourself and take regular classes alongside local students. Direct exchange programs will also allow you to immerse yourself in Quito's student life, though your choices will be limited to those schools that are associated with your home institution.
Finally, through third-party providers, you can join an overseas program made for study abroad students. While you’ll admittedly miss out on some academic immersion experiences, you can always make up for it through home stays and group tours, which are typically offered by most providers.
Study abroad students in Quito typically reside in university housing. Third-party organizations will also provide their own student housing for participants. If you're hoping to fine-tune your Spanish language skills while in Quito, think about doing a homestay instead -- that way, you’ll be able to practice your Spanish and experience firsthand the local way of life.
The bus and trolley network is the main mode of transport for getting around Ecuador’s capital city, with relatively inexpensive fares. If you’re studying in Quito in late 2019 or after, then you’ll get to be one of the first to try out the city’s new metro system. For exploring beyond Quito, buses can take you into the Ecuadorian countryside or to neighboring nations like Peru.
Curious about the costs students can expect for studying overseas in Quito? See below for financial information to help you start budgeting for your trip.
Cost of Living
From transportation to food, the cost of living in Ecuador is remarkably lower than that in the U.S. One-way fares on Quito’s current bus and trolley network are around the equivalent of a U.S. quarter, and Numbeo estimates that grocery prices are about 77% lower than what you’re used to. Keep in mind, low expenses can be devious, so be sure to track your spending to ensure that you don’t accidentally go over budget.
For visas, 90 is the magic number -- foreign students in Quito under 90 days don’t need a visa, while those over will. Ecuador’s student visa process is rigorous, and, when applying, you’ll need to submit a completed background check, proof of your acceptance at a Quito institution, and evidence of sufficient funds to support your stay. Additionally, there’s also a small visa fee.
Can You Work While Studying In Quito?
If you were hoping to take on a side hustle while studying in Quito, you’ll have to go the visa route. It’s possible to intern in Quito or, for graduate students, even work in your desired industry. Keep in mind, almost all opportunities will require strong Spanish skills to be successful in the workplace.
To help alleviate some of the financial burdens that come with studying overseas, explore the following scholarships available to Quito-bound students:
- IES Abroad: Offering programs around the world, IES has scholarship opportunities for all participants, including those headed to Quito. Examine their need-based awards, donor-funded grants, and more to help fund your trip with them.
- HECUA: HECUA also has a number of scholarships to choose from. Students that participate in their community internship program in Ecuador have an exclusive opportunity they can apply to.
- Other Scholarships: That’s just a sample of what’s out there -- discover additional scholarships for studying overseas in Quito here.