• Ecuador
    • Quito
Starting Price
$17,323 USD
Fall, Spring
Subject Areas
Anthropology Communications Education History Latin American Studies Political Science Psychology Social Sciences Sociology Sustainable Development Women's Studies +1

Program Details

Program Type
Degree Level
Host Family


Starting Price
$17,323 USD
Price Details
This year, SIT will award nearly $1.3 million in scholarships and grants to SIT Study Abroad students. We encourage all qualified students to apply for our need-based scholarships.

SIT Study Abroad is committed to increasing access to international education and to ensuring you have the information you need to successfully access funding for your study abroad program with us. We offer a broad range of scholarships and grants, including our award winning Pell Grant Match. Scholarship awards generally range from $500 to $5,000.
What's Included
Some Activities Airport Transfers Classes Travel Insurance
What's Not Included
Accommodation Some Activities Airfare Meals SIM cards Visa
Nov 22, 2019
Aug 30, 2021

About Program

Study Ecuador's development processes while considering the relationship between power and discourse as the country's multilingual and multiethnic populations strive for social change and sustainability.

Major topics of study include:

* Power and politics in Ecuador, hegemonic and counter-hegemonic discourses of development
* How different groups in Ecuador conceptualize and talk about issues such as sustainability, restoration, extractive industries, social inclusion, and inter-ethnic relations
* The impact of Ecuador’s development processes on the environment, discourses surrounding sustainability and quality of life
* The relationship between the language(s) of political power and social movements in Ecuador
* Indigenous languages, politics, interculturalism, and plurinationality

Video and Photos

Program Reviews

9.67 Rating
based on 9 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 100%
  • 7-8 rating 0%
  • 5-6 rating 0%
  • 3-4 rating 0%
  • 1-2 rating 0%
  • Academics 8.3
  • Support 9.8
  • Fun 9.7
  • Housing 8.7
  • Safety 8.4
Showing 1 - 8 of 9 reviews
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Yes, I recommend this program

SIT Ecuador: Development, Politics, and Languages

I absolutely loved this program. It's so cliché to say, but it really was a life-changing experience for me. I found the academics to be extremely stimulating, but the outside-the-classroom workload was reasonable, which left plenty of time to explore the country. I was especially impressed with how the coursework was accessible to everyone, regardless of Spanish-speaking ability. We had a wide range in our cohort, from native speakers to total newbies, but somehow everyone seemed to feel comfortable and appropriately challenged. As others have noted here, the excursions to the Amazon, Galapagos, and Intag cloud forest were absolutely amazing, in terms of both the ecological and cultural diversity that we had the opportunity to engage with. Our cohort was larger-than-average, with about 24 students, but we were very close. I think everyone felt that they had a solid group of friends to go out and explore the country with. Faba and Sofia were are just the best, very supportive but not at all helicopter-y. The class discussion was very open-ended, with wide variety of viewpoints, as we had students of a variety of nationalities. This was sometimes challenging and very intellectually engaging. My homestay experiences were both excellent, as most or all of the homestay families have long-standing relationships with the program directors and have lots of prior experience hosting foreign students.

For me, the most impactful part of the program was the Independent Study Project (ISP). For this project, we were allowed to stay just about anywhere in the country for four weeks, and work on a research project of our own design. However, we had to partner with a community organization in our project location, and the program directors have relationships with organizations all over, so no one had to be truly "out on their own" if they didn't want to be. I chose to work with a social movement that was protesting state-sponsored mining in the Intag cloud forest. I had such a good experience, and built such strong relationships with community members there, that when I got back to my university in the US, I immediately started working on a way to go back. Ultimately, I assembled a student team, and we were awarded over $20,000 in funding to return to Intag. So, I spent three more months in Ecuador supporting the work of multiple community organizations after graduating from UVA in 2019. I stayed with the same homestay family that I had met in 2018, and I am still in touch with them today. So, I would say that the was not only a great way to forge long-lasting relationships with local people, it also went a long way towards advancing my young career. As soon as it is safe, I can't wait to go back!

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
Cuy, obviously! But don't worry, I had to go out of my way to try it, no one is going to force feed you.
4 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

The BEST experience!

There are not enough words to describe how life changing this program was for me! The academics were challenging in that it taught me to see from a different perspective and imagine different ways of being and living. Classes were very relaxed though and open for everyone to share their thoughts and experiences. We also frequently had guest speakers who were prominent community leaders or government officials. Additionally, we were able to directly apply our knowledge in breathtaking excursions to the Amazon Rainforest and the Galapagos Islands (more were planned but the program was unfortunately cut short due to COVID-19). During these excursions, we stayed in the nicest places I have ever been to! In the Amazon we stayed at a sustainable finca, hiked through the rain forest, were spiritually cleansed, and listened to a presentation by an important community activist. In the Galapagos, we hiked through volcanos, snorkled with sharks, sea turtles, and sea lions, and experienced some important local community organizations. The most impactful aspect, though, were the people I met here. I have never been surrounded by a more kind and loving group of people. The entire group developed such a close bond from the get-go and we spent the whole program together, planning activities after class and even going out of town on the weekends.
It is also important to note that I never felt unsafe here. Although I was studying abroad during the beginning of the pandemic, SIT and my program directors did everything they could to ensure the health and safety (and even happiness) of their students. The academic directors, Faba and Sofia, were incredible in helping us navigate the unprecedented conditions we were experiencing.
This program has so much to offer and allows you enough free-time to craft it into the perfect study abroad experience. I am now the person who can't shut up about their study abroad experience!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
The first weekend we were in Quito, the whole group decided to hop on a 10-hour bus-ride to go to Banos. One day, we biked for 14 miles to see 7 different waterfalls--even climbing through a cave to see one of them! We also zip-lined over a valley and rode a suspended cart right up to a waterfall. These are things I would normally be too scared, and definitely no fit enough, to do, but I'm so so so glad I did!
10 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Finding family and community in Ecuador

My experience in SIT program Ecuador: Development, Politics, and Languages was profoundly moving and not simply because I was able to have once-in-a-lifetime experiences like snorkeling in the Galápagos and hiking through the Amazon rainforest, but also because of the incredibly strong connections I built with the people of Ecuador.

I was fortunate to have amazing host family that supported me throughout the entire program and significantly incorporated me into their family dynamic. The bonds that I made with them will continue for my whole life, I'm sure of it.

An absolutely outstanding element of this program is the ISP (Independent Study Project) at the very end of the program. I decided to stay in Quito and work with one of the foremost LGBTQIA organizations of Ecuador. I worked on a fundraising project for about four weeks and learned the ins and outs of non-profit work. Throughout this ISP experience, I was able to share my own personal experiences with my Ecuadorian coworkers which helped me to understand my own personal position and helped me to start asking questions about who I am and where I come from.

The SIT Ecuador: Development, Politics, and Languages program seems to have affected me in a way that I don't think any other program would. Every single moment of the experience was instructive and just so richly gratifying. I can honestly and truthfully say that this program changed the way I think and will continue to do so as I move on through my academic and professional career.

What would you improve about this program?
If you are a student looking for an intensely rigorous academic program, this program is probably not for you. The style of instruction in classes is quite different from that of most universities or colleges, those in the USA at least. You might, at times, feel as if the work is a bit tedious and less than stimulating. However, this does not mean that you will not learn anything, because the majority of the learning of this program is experiential, whether it is going on excursion for a rural homestay or simply walking into a market to buy a pastry.
12 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

An amazing opportunity for intercultural, personal, and academic development

My experience abroad in Ecuador was by far the best part of my academic experience thus far. Applying our studies to experiences in different communities and landscapes in Ecuador helped me to draw a deeper emotional connection to my academics. For example, while learning about developmental paradigms in Ecuador, I had a rural homestay with a family who had been part of a movement against copper mining in the Intag cloud forest region of Ecuador. Over dinner, they would tell me detailed stories of the risks and rewards involved in trying to prevent exploitation and how they were creating a sustainable economy through art.
I also loved the ISP portion of this program. I volunteered with an organization called Uniendo Fuerzas Formamos Futuro (UFFF) on Isabela of the Galápagos which does holistic education programs (i.e., theater, dance, acrobatics) for kids and English classes for kids and adults on the island. I investigated how holistic education addresses real themes/problems in people's day to day lives, such as gender, the environment, and cultural practices.

11 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Field-based, hands-on, AMAZING!

SIT Ecuador: Development, Politics, and Languages could not have been a better experience. I applied to the program on a whim following the advice of my study abroad advisor and it could not have been a more perfect fit, and the hands-on, field-based experience we had was once in a lifetime. From city life in Quito to the coast of Guayaquil and the Galapagos Islands, all the way to the Amazon, we had the unique opportunity of being able to learn first-hand about Ecuador's most pressing socio-political issues from those directly involved in grassroots organizations and those affected by the ever-shifting political climate. Fabian, the academic director, is the most knowledgeable and passionate teacher I have ever had in my life. He and Sofia (the assistant director) were a constant support structure throughout the entire process and were always ready, willing, and able to lend an ear, a hand, or whatever you might need. I was able to immerse myself in Ecuadorian culture through my homestays and consequently improved my Spanish dramatically. The ISP was an incredible experience; I was able to prove to myself that I can, do, and will belong in academia, an aspect I have been doubting about myself for a long time. The opportunity to engage in field-based primary research at that level with the level of support that we had is something incredibly unique. The best part of the program is that you can really mold it to your academic interests- whether you're passionate about the environment, human migration, linguistics, gay rights, etc. etc., you can make the program what you want it to be!

12 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Learning to Read

SIT Ecuador made me realize that a good study abroad experience is like learning to read. Traveling superficially is exciting with its incoherent sounds and symbols, but what I loved about SIT's program is that it allowed me to move past that phase and into one where every mark of the landscape had meaning. I felt competent to travel around by myself, to speak Spanish, and to interpret everything I saw on a daily basis in terms of Ecuador's cultural and political climate. I can't go back to Ecuador as a tourist any more than I can unlearn how to read, and I really appreciate this depth of learning that the SIT model provides.

What would you improve about this program?
Because this program moves around, it can be a little harder to make Ecuadorian friends. But between homestays and the Independent Study, there are opportunities if you take advantage of them.
7 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

For adventurous types looking for an immersive experience

A truly fulfilling study abroad experience in an amazing country. Challenging and immersive. Do yourself a favor and choose SIT Ecuador!!

Host Country Program Administration:

The staff on hand take care of all the logistics, leaving you to soak up as much of the country and language as you can.


Living arrangements were exactly what I wanted: caring host families who want to include you in everything they do. Seriously, everything. Be prepared to go grocery shopping, go to family weddings, leave in a car without knowing where you are going, etc. That's just how it is in Ecuador. They want to make you a part of the family. It can be exhausting at times, but totally worth it in your language gains and cultural immersion.


Ceviche, maduros, sopas ricas. Everything is fresh. You will try so many incredible fruits and vegetables that you have never had before. If you are vegetarian you will be accommodated.

Social & Cultural Integration:

I felt very integrated into the local culture. Being a foreigner, you will always stand out, but that doesn't mean you can't become part of a community. People in Ecuador are very willing to include you in their plans, especially your host families. Your host family will be your best route to making lots of Ecuadorian friends. If you are worried that you won't be immersed because you won't be in an Ecuadorian university, don't be. I had the same worry going into the program, but I was so glad to have some time each day with the other SIT students. You will spend almost all of your free time with your host family or other Ecuadorian friends anyways.

Health Care:

I did not have any health issues besides some minor "indigestion" (almost unavoidable). Other students on the program received great medical attention for other issues.


Let's be real, living in Ecuador is like living in any other developing country: it's not always safe, but you can always stay safe by taking precautions. Travel in groups, don't go out alone after dark, etc. Taxis are perfectly safe as long as you know what to look for. Your program staff does a tremendous job advising you on how to do this. We had one student robbed, but this student simply got too comfortable and made the mistake of going out alone after dark. Follow the advice of the program leaders and you will be just fine!


I did not spend very much money at all in Ecuador. Your program costs cover all meals and transportation, even those costs incurred on program excursions. Other things that you will want to spend money on (clothes, crafts, going out, nestle galaks) don't cost much by western standards.


Your classes are in Spanish, even though they are taken with the other SIT students. You are placed in individual homestays, so you have no choice but to use Spanish there. On excursions with the other SIT students, you can talk in English but are of course encouraged to always use Spanish!

SIT Ecuador is an incredible experience. The program staff, especially the academic director, Fabian, is so helpful. You will learn so much about the world and about yourself.

9 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Transformative, engaging program

There is simply too much to write about this program. I'll do my best to give you a sense of how impactful the experience was on my life.

First, let's start with the country. Ecuador is a unique country that has just about any sort of geographical/ecological environment you could want: gorgeous coastline, snow-capped mountains, and primary rain forests. Undoubtedly, the best part of the curriculum for this program is that it sees the whole country as the classroom. A series of "excursions" takes you across the entirety of Ecuador, from the cultural metropolis of Quito (sitting at 9000 ft), to sparsely populated kichwa-speaking communities in the Amazon river basin. You get to hike through the Intag cloud forest and call it a day of school!

Even in the ACTUAL classroom, though, this program is awesome. It centers on the concept of interculturalism, and how politics and development can flow outwards from the idea of respecting peoples' culture, identity, and self-sufficiency. It challenges many of our US- and Euro-centric concepts of development. The courses are not hard (grade-wise) but will challenge you to change your perspective on many issues. And it was successful in my case. I still find myself thinking in ways that I wouldn't have if I didn't go abroad and see/ process different styles of living and thinking.

All that is kind of secondary, though, to what is the true, lasting impact of this course: the PEOPLE you meet. This certainly starts with your academic director (AD). When I was on this trip, I had the great fortune to have two fantastic ADs: Fabian Espinosa and Leonore Cavallero. I really should start by saying how brilliant they are -- they know so much about the people and history of Ecuador, and tie it in craftily to our US-centric understanding of history -- but I can't. This is because they are some of the best and most caring PEOPLE I've ever met, plain and simple. Anything you need, they will help you. Any life advice you may seek, they provide. They truly do their best to understand your situation (abroad, alone, etc.) and provide insight that is so meaningful.

Beyond the ADs, Ecuadorians generally are just so kind and helpful. I had three different host families while in the country, and I still keep in touch with two of them. They cooked such delicious meals (ceviche, locro, empanadas de platanos -- ay, I miss it) and were so accommodating. I really owe so much of my experience to the people who welcomed me into their homes and really made me feel like part of the family. They facilitated the best kind of intercultural exchange, where we each tried to give insight into aspects of our own culture and share in the beauty of each (but they had the better food).

Lastly, the rest of my peers on the program were so dope! It was fun to share our worries and apprehensions as well as the hikes and fun nights out that we shared. I formed some really strong and meaningful friendships while in Ecuador -- with these kiddos, the host families, and the ADs. I can't overstate how impactful these people have been on my life.

What would you improve about this program?
9 people found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers