SIT Ecuador: Comparative Ecology and Conservation

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About

Ecuador is home to more than 1,600 species of birds and 10 percent of the world’s known vascular plant species. Students on SIT's Ecuador: Comparative Ecology and Conservation program have the opportunity to interact with community members and local stakeholders who are grappling with conservation strategies within the context of heightened political, economic, and social pressures provide valuable context.

The program base is historic Quito, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Educational excursions take students to the high sierras of the Andes, the epiphyte-rich cloud forest, the rugged snow-line páramo, and the vast rainforest of the Ecuadorian Amazon. A guided, weeklong visit to the extraordinary Galápagos Islands provides access to plant and animal species found nowhere else on earth.

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Reviews

9.47 Rating
based on 19 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 89.47%
  • 7-8 rating 10.53%
  • 5-6 rating 0%
  • 3-4 rating 0%
  • 1-2 rating 0%
  • Academics 8
  • Support 9.3
  • Fun 9.2
  • Housing 8.9
  • Safety 8.2
Showing 1 - 8 of 19
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Ellie
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Exploring Ecuador Through Fieldwork, Travel, and Spanish Immersion

This was an incredible semester experience that allowed me to pursue my academic interests (biology/environmental science/animal behavior), improve my Spanish skills, learn a lot about a new culture, experience places and things I would never have been able to as a tourist, and make some life-long friends. The excursions included so much more than I imagined and I really enjoyed the hands-on learning approach. The program staff was fantastic and really prioritized our understanding. All of the students in the program were extremely passionate people who took the experience seriously and worked hard.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Every student came into this program from a different background. Although the majority of students had studied biology/environmental science at their home institutions, there were others who had studied music/English/etc. Everyone's Spanish skills were also very different and everyone improved so much. There was also a wide diversity of experience as it related to research and fieldwork. All this being said, don't let your experiences prior to going abroad make you feel like this won't be a good fit.
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Renee
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Great opportunity for travel, field learning, and research

This study abroad provided valuable learning in the field, as well as experience in research and academic writing. The adventurous excursions to observe plants, animals, adaptations and symbiotic relationships, environmental impact and conservation efforts, field research methods, and much much more resulted in a rewarding and "once in a lifetime" experience, while being interspersed with regular class time and assignments to improve scientific writing, spanish language skills, and general ecological knowledge. This mix made for a semester full of flexibility, rigor, fun, and lots of new things. The homestay provided additional experience with the culture and the language. All together, this program created a study abroad that will benefit students well beyond the end of the semester. I thoroughly enjoyed my SIT Ecuador: comparative ecology and conservation semester and will never forget the lasting friendships and connections that were formed during the semester.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
Too many to count! The Galapagos was definitely a highlight - seeing iguanas, tortoises, sea trutles, sharks, rays, eels, penguins, finches, and much much more!
Studying the Moth Family Saturniidae
Rae
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Exciting, Adventurous and Career-Defining Equatorial Experience

Doing this program was one of the best decisions I ever made! It was academically challenging, and each part of the program was engineered to push students to their highest potential. I walked away with confidence in the language, research development, and new interests. The professors and fellow students were incredibly inspiring, and it was hard to leave when the program ended. I will continue to search for academic environments like what I found in this program, and will remember my time on this program for the rest of my life! I would highly suggest this program go any hard worker environmental student searching for the tools needed to make positive change in the world.

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Margaret
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The experience of a lifetime

The professors in this program were incredible. They were so enthusiastic that it was contagious. They are so caring too and love what they do and are good at it! They also tailor things to the group of students they have e.g. spanish intensity and topcis of interest. The excursions were out of this world, places you've only dreamed of going/ have only seen on nature documentaries. Some examples are the galapagos, cloud forest, Yunguilla, Páramo, etc. I can't speak for eeveryone else, but my personal host family was so sweet and I had so much fun with them. Overall this program is rich in experience if that is what you are looking for. Forget sitting in the classroom every day in your typical mundane college experience. This is an experience that will change you, your perspectives, and you will never forget it.

What would you improve about this program?
packing list, non-traditional gender and sexuality considerations
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Grant
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Above-and-beyond experience in Ecuador!

The program absolutely lived up to the expectations of being immersed in Ecuador's amazing biodiversity and complex conservation challenges. I learned so much through the experiential, comparative approach of the program. Furthermore, the opportunity to perform independent real-world field research was invaluable and allowed me to develop practical skills for my future. The Galapagos alone makes this program worth the value, and it is so much more beyond that! Visiting the paramo, cloud forest, Amazon, and other ecosystems gives a comprehensive view of research and conservation methods. The program staff is passionate about what they do and very helpful throughout the course of the program. I would absolutely recommend this program to anyone passionate about ecology, conservation, and Spanish! I would do it all again in a heartbeat.

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Sarah
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Incredible Opportunity

Throughout this program, I gained confidence in myself, as well as an appreciation for familial bonds and a different perception of life and family structure. I learned about important environmental issues while visiting some of the most beautiful and biodiverse places in the world. I also made amazing friends who share my passions and values, both from Ecuador and the US. The homestay enriched my experience and provided the most opportunities for Spanish practice.
Ecuador is a beautiful country with so much to offer (Galápagos!!) and this program provides an incredibly unique way to visit the different regions. The style of learning can be tiring, because it is rigorous, but it is easily justified by the hikes through the Amazon, the early morning bird watching, or snorkeling and seeing marine life in the Galápagos.

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Satya
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Great, immersive experience in science and Spanish!

I absolutely loved the SIT Ecuador program and it was a great fit for me, someone who wantes a field-based program woth a combination of science and Spanish. The strength of this program was its small class size (18 students in my program!) and unique, field-based format. All the students are from the US and our professors (and of course host families) are Ecuadorian. It’s structured such that we live and go to school in Quito and then every other week or so, we are off on week long excursions to different ecosystems all over the country. The last month is dedicated to conducting our independent research projects, where each student does their own research in a field station of their choice. As you can imagine, this allowed us to spend TONS of time outside in the field getting our hands dirty. If hands-on experiential learning (at any given time of the day and night) is your jam, then you’ll love it. The time we spent learning in the field was incredibly formative for me as a budding scientist.

In terms of scientific background, the vast majority of students were Biology or Environmental Science majors with a couple Geology folks. Prior knowledge in earth science isn’t necessary, but I would definitely recommend intro bio and ecology classes, perhaps a botany class if you have the option at your university. However, one of my close friends on the program was an art major and had only taken one science class before. So it is doable, but that's not the norm.

A key point to emphasize is that every facet of this program is structured, so it's hard to find free time for social and extra-curricular opportunities. Within the realm of abroad programs, this one is quite academically rigorous (which I feel is not stressed enough) and because of that, you will have little free time. You have to be willing to put in the work and live outside your comfort zone for a whole semester. But if you embrace it, you'll have a blast and will learn and grow so much.

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Caleb
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best possible study abroad experience

This study abroad program far exceeded anything that I hoped it would be. It had adventure (trekking through the Amazon, snorkeling in the Galapagos, and living in rural home stays, etc.), cultural immersion, language practice, rigorous academics, and independent research. There are times when I was certainly in uncomfortable situations but all of them were important parts of the program and helped make it what it was. The directors and administration are great to work with and you end up feeling like a family, both with them and the other students on the program. The research at the end is a great time for developing your own project, putting it into place, and writing it up into a full scientific paper. Really can't recommend it enough.