EcuaExperience: Pre-Medical and Volunteer Programs

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About

Help, Learn and Discover is a student-driven volunteer organization that offers four week Pre-medical and Volunteer programs in Ecuador. These programs provide students with three main opportunities: to Help those less fortunate, to Learn first-hand knowledge about the medical field, and to Discover the amazing diversity of Ecuador. In the Help component, students use fundraised money to participate in a specific large-scale volunteer project. For example, in 2012 we built 21 homes for underprivileged families in a rural community called Pallatanga.

Students work alongside local families and are able to see the homes develop while integrating themselves into the community. In the optional Learn component, students shadow leading doctors and health professionals through eight different wards in a hospital setting.

We conclude the program with the Discover component, where students embark on an 11-day tour through the jungles, rainforests, highlands and beaches of Ecuador.

Questions & Answers

Most of our students are 18+. However, we have had students under 18 that need their parents to co-sign their contract.

Reviews

97%
based on 226 reviews
  • Impact 9.7
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 9.1
  • Value 9.7
  • Safety 9.7
Showing 181 - 195 of 226
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Alex
10/10

Experience of a life time.

Somehow after reading tons of very positive reviews before going on the trip, the experience managed to exceed my expectations. Saying that this trip is life-changing isn't just giving it another random cheezy description. It truly is life-changing in so many great ways! I left Ecuador with a better perspective on life, on others, and even myself.

The "discover" part of this trip was flawless. There was always something new to experience every day! Even the rainy days were so much fun. We got to hike through the jungle, rappel down a waterfall, tube down rivers, learn to surf, party with great friends, and so much more! It felt like we were always so sad to leave every area we visited because they were so unique and fun. But as soon as we got to the next destination it was just as exciting as the last! We were not given specific itineraries for this trip which at first made me a little skeptical, but I soon learned how special it was to just live in the moment without constantly watching the time! Loved every moment of it.

The "help" portion of the trip was unbelievable. What a great community to be involved with! Not only did we get to see our fundraised money go directly to use and physically help build houses for very deserving families, we had the opportunity to work alongside and form relationships with the families who would be receiving the houses. This is a really important aspect of the volunteer portion and allowed us to get the most out of the short experience. As well as building the houses with the families, we had an organized party and a huge soccer game where we got to just dance and play with the kids and get to know them! So inspiring to see them so happy with so little.

In the "learn" part of the trip we did just that! For the first time in my life I was learning school material just for the sake of learning. The tutors were amazing! They were great at answering any questions we had at any time and were really committed to our group and helping us learn. In spending time with them, we got to learn not only medical procedures and facts but also what it's really like to be in medical school or a practicing doctor. Got to learn and see so many things that I would have never had the opportunity to experience in Canada such as taking someone's blood, practicing stitches, and standing above to head of a patient during a surgery.

I would do this trip again and again if I could! I came back with some new great friends and a whole new perspective that has inspired me to continue to travel. I can't wait to return to the beautiful country of Ecuador one day.

How can this program be improved?
If I could change one thing about this trip it would be to double the time in each location and stay in Ecuador for two months instead of one. I feel like I only got a taste of most places when I could have easily stayed longer to experience each area a bit more.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Robyn
10/10

HLD May 2013

This experience gave me firsthand experience and opportunities to truly cement what I want to do with my life. During the med rotations, I loved that we got to see what it's like to be a doctor/work in a medical profession. One of my most favourite days was on the surgery rotation where we got to see three different surgeries in 3 hours. Personally, I never was interested in the OR, more so in paediatrics, but after seeing what goes on in there, I am so interested! The knowledge the tutors imparted on us was useful, applicable, and so interesting.

We also got to travel and see the wonders Ecuador has to offer. I loved that we got a behind the scenes look at Ecuador. One of my most favourite adventures was our hike through the rainforest. It was SO beautiful and such an incredible experience. I also loved going to Otavalo and shopping in the market that was there. I loved the med rotations, but this is what made me fall in love with Ecuador. I loved loved loved all the places we got to go see. My favourite location we went to was Canoa. I loved the beachy lifestyle and the hotel we stayed at was so much fun. That part of the trip is something to look forward to!

The volunteer part of the trip was lifechanging. Working with the families that will receive the houses was incredible. The relationships you build with them will stick with you forever. The children were also so wonderful and such delights! It was really humbling to be in a place where they had nothing, yet were so willing to give us what they had and to make us feel special. And that they did it with such joy!

How can this program be improved?
I wish we got more time in certain locations (like Canoa and the volunteer site), but I do realize that there was a lot to see and experience in a short amount of time... maybe the trip should be longer :)
I also wish that there was a little bit more to see in the night med rotations.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Marcus
10/10

A greater experience than I expected

I loved how the medical portion mimicked what it was like to be in the later years of med school and I thoroughly enjoyed the lessons as well as the rotations. I felt it really gave me a feel for what to expect when I pursue med school and only concreted my thoughts on which fields of medicine I'd want to practice. The tutors were amazing and well picked, they really tied the experience together and made sure it was personal and that we got the most out of everything. The food was good and I liked having the ability to choose what I got to eat for the majority of the trip. The hotels and hostels were unique and only added to the experience, I wouldn't change anything in regards to where we stayed. I especially appreciated the hotel at Canoa and thought it was the perfect way to end the trip.

How can this program be improved?
It would be cool if there was a place the med participants could go to view the content taught online as we went through it considerably fast (understandably) and having access to that could be a great value. My only complaint would be that some of the meals at the volunteer site weren't very healthy and didn't leave me satisfied after the long days of work. It wasn't a huge issue but it would have been nice to have some healthier options.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Makayla
10/10

Best trip of my life

Ecuaexperiance was truly a lifechanging trip for me. I did the Volunteer portion of the trip and being able to spend 12 days with a community as caring and amazing as that in Camarones was incredible. It made you realize how well off we are and how much you take it for granted. The way that the community welcomed us was heartwarming, they made us dinner, took us dancing, and welcomed us into their families. I think it will be impossible for me to forget about the friendships I made with the people in Camarones.

The whole trip for me was a 10/10. The other people travelling were amazing, we all grew so close so easily it was very hard saying goodbye. The leaders made sure everyone was having a good time all the time and the adventures we had will not be forgotten.

How can this program be improved?
I wouldnt really change anything, maybe offer a different program where you can just go for a volunteer but for a longer amount of time, that would be cool!
Yes, I recommend this program
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Jimmy
10/10

An Amazing Trip Underestimated (May 2013)

This trip was amazing, I would not be surprised if most people found it to be life-changing. The impact of the Pre-Med program has 100% set my medical career goals into stone. The tutors were friendly and professional, with loads of knowledge to share.

The volunteer portion was amazing as well, from the place we stayed to the community where the houses were being built. Seeing what we take for granted in our everyday lives is VERY eye opening. The experience of actually digging and building the foundations for a future house with the to-be owners was unbelievable. Meeting the community, hearing their stories and attempting to communicate with them is just an unforgettable experience.

Finally, discovering Ecuador and everything it has to offer was my dream come true. I could not have imagined that it would be like this. From being up in the mountains, to down by the ocean. From historical settlements, to jungle barely touched by man, to white sandy beaches. Not to mention how many friends were made on this trip.

I would definitely return to do this trip again in a heartbeat.

How can this program be improved?
The only thing I would like to change about the trip is maybe a reduction in the price of the trip, as I know many people who would have loved to join if they could afford it. I would also have liked to have been able to go on an extra week. Also, just for the beginning of the trip, the organization could have been better; however, none of these factors affected how much I enjoyed this trip.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Joanne
10/10

May 2013 - PreMed

This trip was honestly the most incredible experience I have ever had! Every portion - the help, the learn and the discover - were so well thought out and crafted and everything seemed to be planned to perfection. The hospital rotations were phenomenal - they gave me such insight into what it was like in the typical day of a doctor and they were pretty interactive! I have never been so motivated to pursue a career in medicine and it 100% is because of this trip. The travel portion of the trip was awesome!!!! The travel days were spread throughout the entire trip which gave nice variation. Every hotel we stayed at was awesome with super friendly staff and the meals were also incredible! On top of that, the activities they had planned for us were so much fun and really allowed you to experience the culture! I never once felt unsafe on the trip and always had full confidence that our leaders knew what was up! Last but absolutely not least was the volunteer portion. Holy SMOKES. Everything about the village - the location, the people, the weather, the hospitality and the kids - pulled at my heart strings. The work was challenging but by no means difficult and it was so much fun to work alongside the people of the village and your teammates - using as much Spanish as we possibly knew to communicate! And its actually crazy how much you actually could have a conversation with the locals, despite the very little amount of Spanish we knew! They were all so ready and willing to help. Honestly, the most beautiful people I have ever met. It was truly this part of the trip that stole my heart and it belongs no where but in Ecuador!

How can this program be improved?
I would have loved to have been able to spend more time with the community outside of working hours. And also would have liked to have a couple more days at the worksite!
Yes, I recommend this program
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Bella's
10/10

HLD 2013

Help, Learn and Discover is a fantastic program that I would recommend to anyone who is passionate about global aid, nature, culture and medicine.

My favorite portion of the trip was being in the hospital. Each rotation allowed me to appreciate the different fields of medicine and effectively taught me a great deal of each subject. The tutors were very knowledgeable and fun which made the long hours worth every second.

Building houses for and with the communities was another rewarding experience. I really liked that the community members were working alongside of the volunteers so that they could feel a sense of accomplishment when the houses were finished. The kids in the community were so much fun and were the best motivation for digging in 40 degree weather.

The discover portion of the trip pushed my limits of fear with adrenaline based activities. Through this experience I made great friends who share the same interests that I do.

How can this program be improved?
I wish I did the extra weeks but it was too expensive for me.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Jordan
10/10

An Awesome Experience

I was part of the 2013 Med program and it was incredible. The med rotations gave a comprehensive insight into many different aspects of the medical field. The tutors assigned to us during the rotations were excellent.

Touring Ecuador was also a great experience as we got to experience Ecuadorian culture and participate in activities such as rappelling down a waterfall and hiking through the amazon rain-forest.

Most importantly, the volunteer experience was unparalleled. Building homes for the community was by far the highlight of the trip. Saying goodbye to the community was absolutely gut wenching.

The quality of people that I met on the trip was matchless. The other volunteers, leaders, tutors, guides, bus drivers and owners of the company were some of the most incredible people that I have ever met. Needless to say, I believe this trip was well worth it.

How can this program be improved?
My one complaint about the program is a nitpick. If you go on this trip be prepared to eat a lot of chicken and rice.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Anonymous
10/10

I'd do it again in a heartbeat!

What a way to spend one month of your summer: learn a new language, help the underprivileged, shadow physicians, explore touristic hot spots... It's educational, inspirational, and life-changing, all in one.

This trip (HDL Aug 2010) was hands-down one of the best decisions I've ever made. Juan, Jose, and the entire staff are so warm, encouraging, and downright hilarious. They make the trip all the much more enjoyable. You'll make plenty of new friends, try new food, see some new sites, and gain new experiences. All these things will mold you into a more global and keen member of society, observant and respectful of various cultures, always appreciative of those and things around you because you have traveled abroad to a 3rd world county where citizens do not possess the same privileges you take for granted every day.

Two years post HDL, I still keep in touch with my friends from the trip and one of them became my boyfriend. So, thank you EcuaExperience for allowing me to embrace the summer of my life and meet the one person who will embrace me for the rest of my life, and vice versa.

How can this program be improved?
I honestly have nothing to critique.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
LeCarol
9/10

OMG

OMG. Such a great program!
Have you ever been on trips where the reality totally outweighs your expectations? Well, this would be one of those trips. The Help, Learn and Discover program will do just that: HELPing the local community with construction and housing projects, LEARNing and experiencing new things from watching live surgeries to surfing in Canoa. And, above all, DISCOVERing the beautiful and culturally-rich Ecuador and even yourself!
Along the way, you'll also make friendships that will long outlast the trip!
Overall, I highly recommend this program to all you curious, adventurous and enthusiastic undergrads out there. You will have the time of your life on this trip or you'll get your money back. Okay, joking about the money part. But, in all seriousness, it is one heck of an amazing program to participate in!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Angela
10/10

Once In a Lifetime

I highly recommend this program. From the founders to the leaders, the staff is incredibly friendly and knowledgeable. You will stay in touch with them for the rest of your life.

The Help portion changes your life. You see things and learn things that you would never get out of a classroom. Working side by side with the families who you are helping is an amazing experience. The impact that the people of Ecuador had on me was more than I could ever give to them. Their way of life and culture is something we should reconsider in our Westernized society.

In the Learn component you really get a feel of what life as a doctor would be like. You have access to many professionals who are more than willing to answer any and all of your questions. They do not hold anything back or sugar coat their lives. It was interesting to see the differences between the Canadian health care system and the Ecuadorian health care system. If you are considering a career in the medical field, this trip is the one for you as it is extremely enlightening.

The Discover portion is also an unforgettable experience. The founders of this program have researched a great deal to find the best places to take the students. Every city and hotel we stayed at was incredible. From repelling down water falls in the rain forest to surfing in the beautiful surf town of Canoa to visiting old Inca ruins, the travel component has everything a student could want.

I can not say enough great things about Help, Learn, and Discover. It has seriously changed me and my outlook on life in the best way possible. If you have the opportunity to go on this trip, there is no other decision than yes.

How can this program be improved?
I would decrease the cost of this program as most students do not have the finances to be able to go on the trip.
Yes, I recommend this program
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T.
10/10

A life changing opportunity

I knew I wanted to volunteer abroad, and when I heard that I could do that, and get medical experience, and go to the Galapagos Islands, I was sold. Then, the program blew away all of my expectations.

First, I had no idea of the impact that the volunteer portion of the trip would have on me. Spending long days, working hard alongside the people we were helping build houses for was incredibly rewarding. Even though I didn't speak a lick of Spanish, I created relationships with families and especially with the children that I will always remember. Leaving Colta was hard to do, but it did lead to the rest of the trip.

On the 'Discover' portion of the trip, we did just that. We discovered Ecuador and its amazing landscape and culture. We also discovered how quickly close, lasting relationships can form with other like-minded adventure enthusiasts.

The Medical rounds were more than I could ask for. The doctors leading our rounds were sensitive, caring, and genuine people who always made sure everyone was content, safe, and learning lots. The experience in the hospital solidified my interest in the health care profession.

At the end of it all I went on the extra trip to the Galapagos Islands and found my favourite place on Earth.

I can't say enough good things about this program and I would recommend it to any undergraduate student interested in a career in health care, or to any person who wants to truly make a difference.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Iamnotmajid
10/10

This program will probably change you for the better

I heard about this program through a friend and I signed up for it without doing a lot of personal research. Well, it turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made. I cannot really explain the effect this trip had on me without sounding like an overtly enthusiastic advertisement. Let's just say that I enjoyed the program so much that I went again the year after and I'm hoping to go again this summer. It's just such a great mixture of volunteering, exploring, socializing, learning, and exposure to other cultures. There was something there that made me feel passionate about everything I was doing. It's difficult to effectively explain all this but I just feel happy and energized every time I look back on my time in Ecuador. It's an experience that will be a part of who I am and what I do for the rest of my life.

The relationships that I developed there, the early mornings at the work site, the songs and games on the long bus rides, the goodbye party thrown by the locals at the volunteer site, the wild life and scenery at the Galapagos, the cool operations at the hospitals, and all the other small details that made my experience unforgettable. These will be with me for the rest of my life and have helped make me into the person I am today. I would not have been able to experience all this without the amazing staff involved in the HLD program and all those awesome people who fundraised with me. So thank you all for creating such an amazing program and for providing this opportunity for cynical students like me.

You may be like me and be skeptical about the program at first. You may think that you wouldn't get along with people there. You may think that it may suck to have to "work" during your summer vacation. But if you're anything like the students I spent the past two summers with, none of these will be the case. I grew past my inhibitions during this trip and learned that life is about taking risks and new adventures, and I am a better person for it.

How can this program be improved?
Do not go on this trip if you want to go out and explore things by your self. Go backpacking if you want to do that. It's unrealistic to expect the staff to put up with you when your safety is their responsibility. Sit back and enjoy the amazing experience that is HLD. that's what you're paying for. This isn't really a criticism of the program but rather just an important note for those who are interested.

The only critique I can think of is not knowing what the next destination or activity was until the day of.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Dirrty
10/10

Ecua Experience 2012

Not to sound like a broken record, but this was one of the best experience an undergraduate student could have. It's a great balance of hard, rewarding work, and adventure, with the occasional opportunity to relax. All with great people sharing similar interests.

The 4 weeks is a perfect amount of time to really bond with the group and any added excursion (to Galapagos, Macchu Piccu, Iguazu Falls, etc.) is just icing on the cake (or popcorn in the soup)!

Would recommend this trip to absolutely anyone willing to meet new people, go on an adventure of a lifetime, and above all, make a difference.

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Carlie
10/10

EcuaExperience 2012

I wouldn't want to spoil this for anyone who wants to go, because one of the best things about this trip is all the incredible surprises along the way - but from snorkelling with sea lions to rappelling down waterfalls, every day is jam packed with an adventure. I took a travel journal, and every day was so filled it was tough to keep up!

The people of Ecuador are so amazing - I knew zero Spanish when I left for this trip, but communication wasn't a problem at all. The guides are fantastic, and the people of the community are warm, friendly, and so much fun to be with. I will admit to a few tears when leaving the community of Pallatanga.

I loved that this trip included EVERYTHING I wanted in a holiday: medical experience, a completely new country, adventure, and incredible people to do it with.

I'd highly recommend this for anyone!

How can this program be improved?
Eh.. anything I'd want to change is just a first-world problem. And having first-world problems only adds to your phenomenal experience.
Yes, I recommend this program

About Ecuaexperience

Help, Learn and Discover is an innovative organization offering educational programs in Ecuador, South America. We strive to offer a fulfilling life experience which combines helping those less fortunate with learning about a specific academic area...