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.

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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 220 reviews
  • Impact 9.7
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 9.1
  • Value 9.7
  • Safety 9.7
Showing 106 - 120 of 220
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Kim
9/10

Best Month of my Life

Overall I thought the trip was incredible. Every single day was better than the last. I have so many amazing memories and friendships made from the trip. One issue was that we had no idea what our schedule would be for the month until we arrive at the hostel in Quito. Although I was worried about not knowing my schedule, I found that it wasn't that big of a deal anyways. We learned to go with the flow and enjoy the laid back lifestyle.

My trip began with a week on the Galapagos Islands. It was AMAZING! If you have the opportunity to go then don't miss out on this week. (Volunteer, Bio med or extra week) We swam with sea lions and penguins! Our leaders took us to see everything. After the week was over I felt that it was the best week of my life.

The next 3 weeks consisted of traveling and visiting the work site. As soon as I stepped foot on the work site I knew I would like it even more than the Galapagos. I felt that we really changed the lives of the families we were helping. During those 3 weeks we also got to see A LOT of Ecuador. I could have never fit so much in if I did a trip on my own.

The only other issue I had with the trip was the food. We spent a lot of money to go on the trip but I was hungry often. Breakfasts didn't usually consist of much more than toast and cereal. I understand that it is expensive and difficult to serve a group of 30 students but I wish we got a little bit more and maybe some snacks during the day.

The organization and food were minor issues I had with this amazing program. We were involved in helping a community in need while also getting to see this beautiful country. I would recommend HLD to anyone.

Yes, I recommend
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Teddy
10/10

2014 Ecuaexperience

Jose and Juan are the most hands on owners ever. They made the whole experience worthwhile. Not only were they accompanying us on our everyday trips, no matter the problem, big or small, they took it into their own hands. This trip was a total eyeopener.

How can this program be improved?
What I would be the events. Some of the events were not as entertaining nor exciting as I would have hoped.
Yes, I recommend
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Sunaira
9/10

Incredible Experience

This trip was incredible to say the least. We went on amazing adventures such as snorkeling with sharks, swinging off a cliff in Banos, hikes in the jungle and much more. The volunteering portion was my favourite part, it was so touching when we got to give the homes away and celebrate with the community after, it was definitely a joyus day! The galapagos was my second favourite thing. The water was so blue it was just amazing! The week in galapagos just flies by because you are having a wonderful time. Juan, Jose, Olivia and the other staff are so supportive and you feel extremely safe when you`re with them!

How can this program be improved?
The amount of travelling time but that´s really hard to fix unless you cut down on the activities, which would suck.
Yes, I recommend
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Mandy
10/10

A True Ecuaexperience

My experience with HLD was unlike anything I expected. Obviously a great amount of adventure is a given, but what I did not expect was how close we got to Jose and Juan. It's more than just a vacation and it's more than just a volunteer summer camp. It was a retreat from the city life with random people - a potentially estranging experience - who became friends and family. We grew together and learned more about the world together. More than that, we got to do the same with the community that we helped. It's a sort of connection that's more than just going to a place, we were completely immersed in the culture with locals as our friends and guides, people who welcomed us with open arms. We didn't even feel like foreigners.

How can this program be improved?
Although I enjoyed the spontaneity of not knowing what's happening next until it happens, I feel that some people would have liked to know a little more beforehand (like which days would be travel days, etc.). I know it's difficult to have the itineraries ready beforehand but I thought that some people were ansty.
Yes, I recommend
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Sarah
9/10

The All-in-one Package

This trip was an experience of a lifetime. I got to learn about the life of a doctor, meet new people, help people and adventure. In this program I got to do actual medical rotations and deal with real doctors, students and patients which was amazing and really showed me that med school is a great option for my future. During volunteering I got to learn about another culture and learn about their customs and lives and work along side them in order to give them more than they have ever had. I also got to meet new people and I made life long friendships here that will never fade. Beyond this I got to do things I never thought I would do like waterfall rappelling, paragliding and snorkelling in the Galapagos. This trip pushed me to face my fears if nothing else and it was all based on safety and encouragement from our leaders and the owners. What's also amazing is that you get to have freedom to do what you want and spend free time how you want. And I cannot express how impressed I was that the owners of this company come with you to destinations and actually get to know you and become your friends.

How can this program be improved?
The only thing I would change is more communication beforehand between leaders and the students coming on the trip. I was very stressed beforehand and didn't really know what was going to happen but in the end everything was perfectly planned and organized.
Yes, I recommend
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Iris
9/10

Ecua-experience of a lifetime

My main reason for coming on this trip? Medical rotations and volunteering.
I was in the pre-medical program and for the week of medical rotations, I met the most incredible people. Not only were the tutors nice, encouraging, funny and intelligent, they were caring. They cared about whether we, as the students and participants, were safe, enjoying our experiences and having all of our questions answered while at the hospital. We were given opportunities to watch surgeries, understand how hospital equipment is used, learn about taking vital signs of a patient and patient interaction, and see doctors rescue someone´s life. 11/10 would be the rating I give for the tutors and medical rotations week. Aside from the medical rotations week, the week we spent building homes in Pujili was amazing. We all poured our sweat and tears (tears of joy from having fun with the children in the community!) into these homes and when it was finally time to officially give them away, that´s when it really hit me. I did it. WE did it. We made an impact on a hundred people, helping to make their lives easier. We saw their smiles and tears and children running to their new homes. Shortly after giving away the homes, we went to see their current homes and that´s when it hit me again. In comparison to their current homes, the homes we gave them were like mansions. It felt wonderful to be able to help a community this way, and I´ve never been more proud of myself that I participated in such a meaningful action as this.
Finally, the cherry on top. We went from city to city; Banos, Mindo, Canoa and Quito only to name a few. We hiked to waterfalls, repelled down waterfalls, shopped for hours at markets, galloped on horses at Cotopaxi, sang songs on the bus, swang off a cliff, took a cable car across a waterfall, laughed too long at inside jokes and surfed in the ocean. Everything we saw was like a scene out of a postcard. (And I´m not exaggerating because Cotopaxi looks even more incredible than the post cards.)

And last but not least, this program had the best owners: Juan and Jose. One word to describe these two people: Incredible

How can this program be improved?
I would have liked another week of medical rotations, even if this means a program that is longer than one month because I really, really enjoyed the medical rotations.
Yes, I recommend
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Joel
10/10

The best way to spend a month.

Whether you are thinking about medicine or not, HLD has you covered. This program allows you to make an impact on a community in Ecuador, make amazing friends, and see some incredible things along the way. If you are interested in medicine, the premed and biomed program gives you an opportunity to do things you simply wouldn´t get a chance to do in Canada or the United States. I saw some incredible surgeries and was able to solidify my desire to go into the field of medicine.

How can this program be improved?
It would be awesome if we could know the schedule for the month before hand.
Yes, I recommend
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Cara
10/10

Amazing Trip

This past month has been so much fun and such a great experience. The time went by so quick because we did so many different things and were always kept busy. It was awesome to be able to meet so many people and make so many new friends. Volunteering in Pujili was so rewarding and we were working with the community to build the homes so we were able to build relationships with the families (especially the kids) who were receiving the homes. I was in the pre-medical program and it was such a great opportunity to get to watch surgeries and shadow doctors in the hospital in Quito because I would never get to do this at home. All of the hostels we stayed at were really nice and the food was always good. It was also nice to have everything planned out for you so there was nothing to worry about as everything was very organized. Juan, Jose, and the leaders were also great. They were super friendly and always kept things exciting. Overall this trip was more than worth it and I would love to do it again!

How can this program be improved?
I wouldn't change anything about this program!
Yes, I recommend
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Cassidee
10/10

Beyond my Expectations - Highlight of my Summer

This trip has been beyond my expectations from the day we arrived in Quito.

Hostels/Resorts- I was preparing myself for the typical hostels you see on TV but every place we stayed at was beyond my expectations. Clean rooms, attentive hostel staff, house keeping, warm showers, and endless activities. The resort in Canoa was hands down my favourite with the beautiful view of the ocean, pool front room, best food all trip, and amazing hotel staff.

Food- The variety of food that was offered was surprising. From rice and chicken, to burgers, to steak or seafood, there was always something on the menu for everyone! We even got to go to a fine dining restaurant a couple times which was a really nice change to the typical casual dining on the trip. Juan and Jose were extremely attentive of my dietary restrictions as well which was helpful because of the language barrier.

Activites- The amount of activites and sites seen on this trip is incredible. Together they make the trip 100 percent worth the price. You can literally experience everything that Ecuador has to offer. Tubing was my favourite activity. It was also really nice that everything was optional. If there was something you didnt want to participate in, there was no questions about it and they often suggested something you could do that day like go into town!

Night Life- Fun, SAFE, and optional! Occasionally we had the option of going to a club or karaoke bar. Jose was always with us so he could help us order drinks in spanish which was very helpful! It was nice to just have fun with everyone even if you didnt drink. Everyone was really respectful of peoples beliefs and ensured to include everyone in all activities.

Volunteer- The volunteer portion was amazing! I personally wish there would have been a few more days but with the amount of activites they want us to experience in the month its understandable. The community was extremely helpful and grateful for what we were doing. The children were playful but always wanted to lend a hand as well. The inaugeration party was a highlight of the trip. The community prepared lunch and dinner for us and threw us a big party! Lots of locals, friends, and family came and together we danced all night!

Med Rotations- This was an extremely knowledge filled week. Being a commerce student I wasnt sure how I would enjoy this portion of the trip but was looking forward to shadowing doctors and experiencing something so unique. It was a lot of information being someone that has never taken a science class but being so hands on made it worth it! We learnt how to do stitches and CPR as well which is important for anyone to know! The case studies were interesting but nothing too hard. Presenting them was fun and gave everyone a good laugh!

Juan, Jose, and Leaders- These people made the trip as amazing as it was. The fact that they were SO attentive and always ensured we were 100 percent satisfied is unlike any trip I have been on. Everyday they greeted us individually and asked how our day has been so far. They reminded us that if we were unhappy to please tell them and they will do whatever they can to flip that around. Having them there also made the trip customizable. Their personalities, dancing, singing, and jokes kept us entertained all week! The student leaders were great too. They blended right in with us and joined us in all we did but were also great for support on any topics.

Overall- Best trip I have ever been on! I look forward to returning home having met so many people and created so many memories. I would highly reccomend this trip for anyone interested in travel, volunteer, or medicine.

How can this program be improved?
The only thing I would reccomend is more information on their website about the different program options. I would have loved to experience the Galapagos but didnt fully understand from the information on the website and made the mistake of not asking enough questions.
Yes, I recommend
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Kavita
9/10

BioMedical Trip 2014

When I first arrived, I was not sure what to expect. I soon learned that the unknown is part of the experience. Living in the moment, experiencing every day without concern of what was coming next is what this trip is all about. Every student has the opportunity to discover themselves and their limits in a very safe environment provided by Juan and Jose. Going from the beautiful highlands in Quito and Cotopaxi, to the jungles in Misahualli and Mindo all the way to the coastal lands of Canoa and the Galapagos are beauties not seen anywhere else. Ecuador is such an incredible and vibrant country with so much to offer. Although it can be overwhelming at times, there is not a part of the trip I would consider cutting out. It truly is a fulfilling experience!
Concerning the medical rotations, I was shocked how indepth they were. You were able to be up close and personal with many different types of surgeries and patients. It truly allows insight into what the medical field has to offer. The tutors were very knowledgeable and helpful, always patiently answering each student's questions. It was evident they are passionate about what they do, and they impart that on the students. I was shocked how much we covered in such a short period of time. I was very grateful for this opportunity.
The volunteer site was also a unique experience. It was a bonding experience within the students as well as with the families in the community. My only regret was not being able to spend more time there. The people of the community opened their hearts to us, and I was very touched with the time I spent with them. They brought us to their old homes and cooked us a delicious meal.
Finally, the owners and the staff of HLD were the most accomodating, welcoming, and wonderful people! From Juan's hilarious quips and dance moves to Jose's protective, charming nature I have really come to love the whole staff. Everyone at hostel 593 are so sweet and has every student's best interests at heart. I will really miss the entire HLD family.
I would recommend this program to people of all ages, backgrounds, and experience.

Yes, I recommend
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Lana
9/10

Worth the money! Most amazing trip ever.

I have only good things to say about this program! Every day is planned out well and filled with activities which make it wonderful. I was a Bio premed student and I think it may be the one program where you get the greatest value for your dollar... Volunteering is amazing but my favorite part had to be the galapagos! There was so many opportunities to try so many different activities throughout the trip. I will be recomending this trip to all my friends.

How can this program be improved?
More invasive volunteering and more opportunities to study the wildlife more in'depth.
Yes, I recommend
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Brittany
10/10

Amazing ecuaexperience!

This August I was a part of the volunteer program offered by Help, Learn & Discover. My time in Ecuador was absolutely amazing and I will definitely be back in the future! Everyday was filled with excitement, each day was filled with great activities, food and great company by the students as well as the leaders. During my time in Ecuador we did so many great activites, some of these include: hiking, snorkelling, tubing, waterfall repelling and various tours. This program is great for anyone who wants to make a difference in others lives while also getting the opportunity to travel around the beautiful country of Ecuador. It was really special to work on the houses with the people of the community who will be living in them and knowing that without us none of this would be possible. I was also lucky enough to travel to Peru before the start of my time in Ecuador as well as the Galapagos Islands for the last week of my trip. I would highly recommend both of these extra weeks!

How can this program be improved?
During my time in Ecuador everything went smoothly! I wouldn't change anything. At anytime if you ever need anything Juan and Jose are more than happy to assist you to make sure you are happy. If I could change anything I would make it longer because leaving was the most difficult part of the trip.
Yes, I recommend
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Tina
10/10

Best experience ever!

My EcuaExperience in the August Pre-Med program was so incredible and indescribable that I don´t even know where to start. I truly feel that Juan, Jose and the leaders went above and beyond to surpass our expectations for this trip. I guess to break it down:

HELP - It was amazing to work WITH the community in building the homes. It was so great interacting with the families, especially the children! The best part was seeing the fruits of our labour at Inauguration Day, where we gave the houses to the community and celebrated the entire day. This was by far the best part.

LEARN - The medical rotations were really fun and really interesting! You can really tell that all the tutors and Juan, who was with us most of the time, are incredibly knowledgeable in their field. We got to see so many amazing surgeries, patients and technology that would be rare to see anywhere else. The case studies were also amazing learning experiences for us as students. Even though the rotations were long (some days going from 7AM to 12AM), every hour was worth it. Definitely got a peek into what the real medical world is like.

DISCOVER - Even more amazing experiences! I feel that we were all taken to the best places in Ecuador. We got to see waterfalls, jungles, go tubing, surfing, paragliding, waterfall repelling and so many more activities than I anticipated. Discovering Ecuador makes me want to come back again!

I think that above all, I appreciate the effort that Juan and Jose put into making this the best possible experience for everyone. They were with us throughout the experience, assuring that we had everything we needed. The leaders are all amazing as well! What I cherish most is that Juan, Jose and the leaders really worked on building relationships with all the students. We all became so close, establishing lifelong friendships with amazing people.

I COULD SAY MORE but I don´t think anyone can understand unless they go on this trip!

How can this program be improved?
It´s really difficult to think of things which could be improved on. If anything, more time on the volunteer site would be really good! We did lots of touring throughout the country, which I absolutely loved, but being in the community was the best part.
Yes, I recommend
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Kevin
10/10

Amazing Adventure Full of New Experiences

Ecuaexperience was amazing. The volunteering, exploration, medical rotations, and leaders were awesome.

Volunteering at Pujili to build new houses for the locals was a blast. The feeling of making a difference and bringing joy to others is priceless. Meeting and playing with local children was touching. It was a eye opening experience and made me more appreciative for what I have.

From Pujili to Mindo to Canoa, I had an amazing time exploring all of Ecuador. Walking under waterfalls, sightseeing Quito, and horseback riding in high altitude were all amazing experiences that I have never done before. Hiking in the jungle, playing soccer with locals, and chilling at Canoa beach resort kept me entertained.

Medical rotations were amazing. The tutors were really patient and took time to explain what was going on. From the operating room to dermatology, I had an amazing time doing medical rotations and taking notes to expand my knowledge of medicine.

The program leaders Juan and Jose were thoughtful, kind, and entertaining. They are really great dancers and love to crack jokes. They are always there for you if you need something. They listen and value what you have to say. They are just fun to be around and are great leaders and friends.

What I feel makes this program fantastic is all the friendship and bonds I made. Being able to meet new people who have similar aspirations and getting to know them over the course of the month is what I loved the most out of this program. I have definitely made some long-lasting relationships during this trip. Being able to explore Ecuador and do activities with these people has been a blast.

Ecuaexperience has been a crazy ride. I can´t believe it´s already over. I´ll miss all of the people who I have been able to share this amazing experience with. Goodbye for now Ecuador.

How can this program be improved?
If I had to change one thing I would change the fact that the ladders in the hostels should be nailed or screwed onto the beds so it would be more safe. Apart from that, Ecuaexperience has been a fantastic program and I appreciate all it has done for me.
Yes, I recommend
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Danielle
10/10

Volunteering, Medical Experience, and So Much More

There is no other way to explain the Ecuaexperience Bio-Med Program than as amazing. The whole month is jam packed full of hiking, med rotations, games, surfing, snorkeling and so much more. The program allows for insight into the Ecuadorian lifestyle and culture (learning about the jungle, the Quitchuan people, coffee, chocolate and so much more) and to work side-by-side with the community you are building houses for. The Bio-Med program also highlights various areas of healthcare and gives a first-hand insight into what it might be like to pursue a career in medicine, physiotherapy, or surgery. Additionally, the extra week in the Galapagos was understandably an amazing experience as the islands are world reknown. Overall, this program touches on every aspect that travel should: helping others, learning more about the world we live in, and discovering who you want to be as a person in that world.

How can this program be improved?
This trip was unbelievable, so it is very difficult to write any improvements. Something that most people should be aware of is that we bus almost everywhere, so if motion sickness is an issue you should pack Gravol. The bus travel does allow for scenic driving. You are able to see the Andes, the coast, and the highlands all in one day. So at least if you are on a bus for a long time, the view is spectacular.
Yes, I recommend

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...