Student Notes and Experiences:
There can definitely be culture shock in Ecuador. You can easily live without understanding Spanish, since many of the educated northerners know English, but expect there to be problems with the language barrier.
I truly feel Quito, Ecuador is the best place in the world to study abroad! Where else can you be a short bus ride away from beaches, mountains, cloud forests, volcanoes and jungles? I had the time of my life and will never forget all of the unbelievable adventures I had! Not to mention, my Spanish improved by 100%. I feel comfortable talking to native speakers now. There was also a great and really helpful month-long orientation before the fall semester that informed me of everything I would need to know about Ecuador. This program also included a lot of excursions such as the Amazon rain forest, Otavalo Market, and the Galapagos Islands. I can't wait to go back!
-Lindsay Norton, studied in Quito Fall 2009
Studying abroad in Quito through the BCA program is a great experience. Not only do you get to study abroad and live with a host family, but BCA also pays for you to go on several excursions to different parts of Ecuador! Most of them are 1-2 day weekend trips, but you also get to go on a 5-day trip to the Galapagos and a 3-4 day trip to the Amazon Rainforest! Quito is an interesting city, and definitely opens your eyes to a different way of life from the United States.
There are also a ton of other places to travel as well, other than where BCA takes you. Luckily, it is super easy and super cheap to travel in Ecuador. Buses go to all regions of the country, and are about $1-$1.50 an hour. Getting around the city is easy as well - bus routes go all over, and it's only $0.25 a ride.
Of all the traveling I did (with and without my program), my favorite places were Otavalo (artisan markets), Baños (adventuring like zip-lining and puenting or relaxing at spas and hot springs), the Galapagos Islands, and Mindo (butterfly gardens, waterfalls, and a chocolate factory). Inside Quito, there are several malls, great public parks (especially the Carolina), fun little restaurants, a bar district, and another artisan market, that is really great, especially if you didn't get everything you needed in Otavalo!
-Michelle Merola, studied in Quito Spring 2013