IES Quito, Ecuador
Describe your typical day: I only had class two days a week. On days I had class, I’d get up and walk to school around 9:30 am. I’d get lunch with friends from university, and then have more class after lunch. I’d normally finish around 4 or 5. Then I’d go home to my homestay, or hang out with friends. I’d normally eat dinner with my host family, and sometimes I’d go out after. On days when I didn’t have class, I would explore the museums-Quito has a ton of museums.
Favorite food discovered while abroad: Cevichocho, which is like ceviche with white beans. You can get it anywhere on the streets, but its best when you buy it in the parks.
What was your favorite part of the city to visit? The historic center. The colonial center also has a lot of salsatechs. My favorite restaurant was La Ventana Arriba. It’s in a neighborhood called La Mariscol, which is where most people go out at night.
What was one highlight of your semester off-campus? The program took us to a field research station in the Amazon for a week. It took twelve hours to get there because it was so deep in the rainforest. We took a plane, a bus, a boat, another bus, and another boat to reach the station. It was amazing; we slept in open air cabins.
What was one challenge you faced during your semester off-campus? Language. Ecuador has no global market, so even educated Quiteños have no incentive to learn English, which was a surprise. The positive was I had no opportunity to speak English.
Advice: Do your best to make local friends. It’s easy to stay comfortable abroad and only spend time with other travelers. But it’s really important to make local friends-not only do they know the cool places to go, making local friends is also what distinguishes traveling for five months from truly studying and living abroad.