I have been in Quito, Ecuador for seven and a half of my ten-month, academic year abroad, and I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. Here is everything I will miss (in no particular order) when my year is over:
- The Public Transportation—Most of the international students here rely on the bus system to get to school. The school is in a valley suburb, about a 15-minute bus ride away, and only costs 25 cents each way. Also, the whole country has a great, safe bus system that only costs about $1 per hour of travel. This means that you can get to the jungle, mountains or beach for less than $15 any weekend.
- Walking—Since a large percentage of the population here relies on public transportation, everyone walks a lot. I ride the bus to school everyday so I end up walking a lot too: a mile to the bus every morning and a mile back. I have loved walking around the city and it’s something that I hope to continue to do when I return to the States.
- The City—Even though I go to school in a suburb, I live in the city. It’s a perfect location and a majority of the international students live in this area. I am within walking distance to three of Quito’s main parks. One is where everyone goes on the weekends to hang out and play with their kids, one is the old airport where people are always running, walking and biking on the old runway, and the third is a beautiful forested area that’s nice to go when you just want to escape the city.
- The Program Directors—Since we have a local resident director and two assistant directors for our program, students can always find someone to ask cultural questions, have them take us to the hospital or doctor, or just have someone to talk to. Somehow they know everything.
- The School Schedule—Here at USFQ we have class four days a week. That means we have a three day weekend every week which is a great opportunity to travel often without missing class.
- The School—USFQ is a great university with a beautiful campus. The students here are very nice and are easy to get to know. The university offers a wide range of classes that would be impossible to find at my home school, such as weaving and Quichua (the most common native language in Ecuador). The school also has a program called Ecuabuddies which, if you choose to, can pair you up with an Ecuadorian student to make some more friends. The Ecuabuddies also plan activities and trips so you can have cheap, pre-planned trips.
- My Host Family—At my house, every evening I get freshly made juice (that would be very difficult to find in the States) along with my supper. Whenever I need a break from studying, my 5-year-old host sister and dog are more than willing to play with me. And, whenever my friends and I want a nice night in, my host mom is more than willing to host. She also takes me to cool cultural events such as a Halloween chiva (a bus that goes around to different salsa clubs to dance).
- The Landscape—Ecuador is a beautiful country with distinct ecosystems just a day’s drive from Quito. Our program takes us on a trip to the Amazon jungle where we get to stay with a small community and learn about their lives and culture. The community members also help us explore the wildlife in the jungle. Our program also takes us to the Galapagos for a week where we are able to learn about eco-diversity. Around Quito there are many beautiful mountains that are great to look at but even better to hike. And the coast is full of quaint beach and fishing towns that make for relaxing weekend getaways.
I am a sophomore, Spanish and Elementary Education double major from Goshen College in Indiana. I chose to study abroad for a year because my program requires a year. I chose to stay in the same place, however, to get a better grasp on the culture and to be able to establish better relationships.