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 121 - 135 of 226
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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 this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
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Ruth
10/10

Outstanding Volunteer Program in Ecuador for Students

The Ecuaexperience program through Help, Learn, Discover is an amazing 4 weeks packed with activities and unforgettable memories. During the help portion of the trip, students were guided through building houses in rural Ecuador, no building experience required! Students enrolled in the pre-medical programs also have the opportunity to shadow doctors at hospitals in Quito. Some of my favorite days were during medical rotations when the doctors in the OR explained the surgeries as they were happening and let us watch up close! Through the course of the program you travel all around Ecuador from the Andes to the coast and even the Galapagos Islands. Some of the activities included: snorkeling, rappelling down waterfalls and many scenic hikes. All that being said, we still had time to spend evenings with new friends. Juan and Jose, the founders of the program, are with you the entire trip and willing to help you make the most of your time in Ecuador. This trip was my second time volunteering in Ecuador and I would come back with Help, Learn, Discover. I would highly recommend this program.

How can this program be improved?
The Ecuaexperience program has come so far in the past 10 years, but still requires students to have some flexibility. I came on this trip with a dietary restriction (gluten) and the entire team here in Ecuador worked with me to make sure I always had meals available. As long as you are ready to adapt to the culture in Ecuador, you will make the most of your trip here and have life-long memories to take back home.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Sum
10/10

An truly incredible eye-opening experience

Ecuaexperience truly is a magnificent journey, and not only a physical journey, but an internal spiritual one. You discover much about yourself and other people as you're volunteering with others on the trip, shadowing doctors in the hospital or just touring the country. This experience is eye opening because you get to discover so much. You get to learn about a third world country and how their life is different from yours in ways I couldn't imagine. You get to discover if you have a passion for a career in health care and you get to have a glimpse into the life of those in that profession. You get an undescribable feeling when you witness the joy of those you help in the remote villages of Ecuador. During my volunteer portion, my group and I lived in worse conditions than we were conditioned to, which gave me a slight understanding of how life is for the people we voluteer for.

I would hands down recommend this trip to anyone, whether you're looking for a volunteer opportunity, wanting to experience a profession in the hopsital or just looking to have fun because whatever you're reason might be, I am sure you will have an unforgettable trip!

How can this program be improved?
At the end of my trip, everyone became incredibly close friends. However, during the trip, some social groups were formed as people tend to hang out with the people they're most familiar with. Maybe for future trips, the program could try to mix together more people when they are rooming together in hotels so that less social groups are formed and everyone can become closer friends faster. This is a minor subjective complaint as everyone eventually became super good friends with everybody!
Yes, I recommend this program
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Andi
10/10

AMAZZZZZZING

I absolutely loved this trip. Not only did I meet friends for life, but I had so many great adventures! Highlights would include the volunteer portion and the various trips around the country. Canoa was amazing, Horseback riding in Cotopaxi, unforgettable, repelling down a waterfall ,crazy and adrenaline pumping! Then there was tubing down the Napa river and staying in the beautiful jungle cabins at the end of the ride. Honestly this whole month was a highlight. I can´t really pick a few without going on about every part of this trip! I loved it and I would recommend it to anyone with a heart for travel, getting to know new people and helping others. I can´t describe the emotion felt after fundraising for months then coming down here and physically getting my hands dirty and helping the community. It was amazing.

How can this program be improved?
I would change the length of volunteer and med rotations. I understand that there is a lot to fit into one month but maybe there can be an option for longer volunteer and longer med as well as all the other activities. I was in BioMed and I would have moved to spend more time with the community and get the chance to participate in the case study during med. This being said i´m being greedy and asking for more! This month was great regardless.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Megan
10/10

Truly an Ecua-Experience to Remember

I have only good things to say about my experience here in Ecuador with HLD. From the moment we arrived the leaders and other staff were friendly and so supportive! The people you meet here become close very quickly and many of us have developed life long friendships. Medical rotations are executed with extreme professionalism and helped me get a sample of all the different specialized positions which ultimately helped me decide on what I wanted to pursue. As for the volunteering, the entire project spendings where determined by the students which was something that I valued greatly. The days spent volunteering felt so worth it as the communities chosen by the company are very greatful and help with the building project all the way through. Lastly, the activities (including an extra week in the Galapagos which was increadible) were memories and experiences I will never forget.

How can this program be improved?
In my opinion there are no major issues worth stating here. Throughout the trip Juan and Jose are constantly ensuring we are happy and asking if there are any things that we need.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Ramon
10/10

The Greatest Experience Ever

The past month has been one of the best months of my entire life. Every single day has been an adventure and an experience I wouldn't change for the world. The company is like no other and it starts with the owners. The owners are there every single day as friends, not supervisors, and that's what sets HLD apart from the rest. As well, the leaders are fantastic and supportive through everything we experience. From helping to build homes first hand, to learning the culture, and discovering every corner of Ecuador, I've had the most amazing experience and would love to come back as a leader one day! #hldtillidie

Yes, I recommend this program
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Cass
10/10

Bes Trip of My life

This trip definitely surpassed my expectations. There was a perfect balance between medical rotations on site volunteering in the community and leisure. The volunteering is well organized and gives you the chance to get to work closely with the community and get to know them better, making this experience even more gratifying. From the mountains in Cotopaxi to the beaches of Canoa it felt like we did it all. Tubing, waterfall repelling, jungle hikes, chocolate tours, were only few of the numerous amazing activities that we had the pleasure of doing during our stay. For students who are planing on pursuing a career in medicine the pre-med program is definitely an eye-opener. You get to assist surgeries, medical consultations, etc which really gives you a clear idea of what being a doctor entails. I have no complaints about this trip; I learned a lot, the food was great and everyone was very kind and welcoming. I would definitely recommend it to everyone!!!

How can this program be improved?
the only thing I would change is how the gifts are given at the end to the community. I would have a more organized system based on age and interest of the children receiving the gifts. Other then that it was great!
Yes, I recommend this program
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Tracy
10/10

Bio-Med Program

This was one of the best months of my life. I was part of the bio-med program and so we go to go to the Galapagos for a week which was honestly one of the best experiences I've had. Overall the discover portion of this trip was unforgettable. We really packed in so many once in a life time experiences that really made me appreciate what Ecuador has to offer. The Medical rotations were pretty packed in as well and I definitely learned alot because the medical tutors were very knowledgable. Unfortunately, by chance my group didn't get to see as many surgeries but that was just because they were not happening during the the days we were. I personally thought the best day was when we got to go in to the operating rooms and see the surgeries really close up which is an opportunity that not many non medical students get. I agree that the volunteer portion was a little short and I do wish I got to interact with the community a little more. I did enjoy the challenge of fundraising though and seeing the definite progress in the homes. Overall this was an amazing experience with amazingly unique and fun people that I will always remember.

How can this program be improved?
Have a longer volunteer section and more interaction with the community.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Paige
10/10

Ecuador is INCREDIBLE

My favorite day of this trip was the day I got to climb up an active volcano on isabela island, or swimming with sea lions and penguins. In Quito I got to see multiple orthopedic surgeries and the community of pujili was so sweet! this was hands down the best 5 weeks of my life, and the quote in the 593 hostel "come as strangers, leave as friends" was so true.Ii consider so many people I have met on this trip to be family. I feel so blessed to have done something like this with my life! a HUGE shout out to Juan and Jose too, they make the trip unforgettable, with many hilarious, but also truly meaningful, speeches. Thank you HLD!!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Bill
10/10

Med Program was a BLAST!

I have researched many overseas programs before I selected this one, so I can tell you my reasons for choosing it. I specifically looked for a program with more health related concept than just general volunteer. I felt that many of the "volunteer" programs are more of touring than helping, but HLD is one that really need you to haul the cement (literally!). I also wanted to experience legitimate healthcare, not when they call stay-near-african-nursery-but-you-cant-go-in, a proper medical experience. And for discover, all I have to say is Juan and Jose knows where to party. You won't regret going to any of the towns they planned for you.

Here are the criteria of gooverseas.com, and I'll explain why each category I give its best.

Benefits: Worth. Two kinds of worth: what I paid for, and what I worked for to fund-raise before the trip. Not only the trip was fantastically done, fundraising to Gold Member is good deed for both the community and yourself too! HLD promised many GM benefits if you reach your fundraising goal, and you will definitely want all of them. Extra hour of surfing, GM trophy and goodies, and many more that will make the trip even better. Originally I was a bit hesitant paying 6k for the trip plus MP week, but after the trip I would give no hesitation to go back. As for fundraising experience, all your hard work will pay off throughout the trip and once you see the smiles of the families you will help.

Support: The leaders, guides and J+J makes sure you have been taken care of. A few times I've been left for a short while, but that is only because they have to take care of 40 other people too. You gotta understand that. During all three components of the trip, leaders and guides are with you. Never would you be left unsupported! I saw a comment about lack of communication before the trip, but that also depends on how anxious you will be. The leaders takes care of you starting from fundraising all the way to coming back.

Facilities: Would you expect good quality wifi in a third world country? I had to adjust my expectations before the trip, especially since the community you will be helping with most likely lack electricity completely, and clean water in general. Going on the trip reveal the amount of stuff I take for granted: too much. Don't expect hot water when you go volunteering, please. You will be experiencing the villager's lives, and they don't live with much that we do. That being said, your homebase hotel, as well as Discover travel hotels, are fully equipped with wifi and other amenities, enough bandwidth that I sneaked a game one latenight. (I apologize!) Many of them ARE all-inclusive hotel standard.

Fun: fun. much fun. fun day and night! Each location that I traveled, each piece of experience was filled with excitement and discovery. Absolutely nothing to regret.

Safety: There is not one point on the trip was I worried about safety. And I worry about safety when I can. Before the trip I was concerned with vaccines - please ensure you and your body is ready for the trip. Once that is done then there is nothing to worry.

I sincerely hope my comment will help settle any questions, and hope to see more HLD-ers out there!

How can this program be improved?
I feel the website could be a little more informative, only because the fun I experienced is much more than what is described on the webpage. On the same note, the itinerary can be done a little better. Not ruining the fun, but adding a little more detail will give security to many people.

The bottom line is I've done much much more than what I have reasonably expected from the description.
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...