Year — Fall 2019
Application deadline: December 5, 2018
By living with a host family and attending a local school in Ecuador you’ll have the opportunity to really get to know this vibrant, exciting culture. You’ll be able to skyrocket your Spanish and make tons of new friends. Throughout the year, you’ll also have the opportunity to visit amazing cultural sites like the Galapagos Islands and the Amazon jungle. You won’t just be studying abroad, you’ll be immersed in a completely different environment. It’s like a whole new reality!
Vegetarianism isn’t that common in Ecuador but it’s possible to get by if you don’t eat meat. In addition to Spanish, which is the official language, there are several indigenous languages spoken as well. In fact, some common slang words in Ecuador are derived from these languages. Ecuador is one of the most ecologically diverse places in the world—it’s home to rainforests, mountains, gorgeous beaches, and islands.
You’ll begin your adventure in New York City or Miami, where you’ll meet your fellow AFSers from the United States. You’ll attend an overnight orientation, during which you’ll learn some basic facts about Ecuadorian society and culture. Then you’ll travel as a group to Quito, where AFS staff and volunteers will greet you.
On the way to meet your host family, you’ll get a chance to experience Ecuador’s incredible landscape. The capital of Quito is the second highest capital city in the world and Ecuador’s mountains are home to cloud forests, tropical mountain forests permanently covered in clouds and mist. Ecuador’s wildlife is extremely diverse; its rainforests contain 4,500 species of butterflies, 1,500 species of birds, as well as monkeys, and other animals!
Like most AFS students, you’ll likely live in a suburban area. Some students live in Quito, while others are in coastal areas or in small towns throughout the country.
Elders are highly respected in Ecuadorian society and it’s not be unusual for several generations to live together in one home. Grandparents often help raise their grandchildren and take responsibility for a lot of the housework. Ecuadorian teenagers also tend to be very close with their family and often don’t move out until they get married so it’s very possible that you’ll have some older siblings to hang out with!See where past AFSers have lived
Sports are very popular in Ecuador, especially soccer. And if you like volleyball, you’re in luck: there’s a special Ecuadorian style of volleyball for you to try! You can also experience a game of pelota nacional, a traditional sport that is sometimes compared to tennis. In recent years, bicycling has become very popular and in the city of Quito the main streets are closed to cars every Sunday for cyclists and skaters. In addition to playing sports, going to parties, and watching movies, teenagers in Ecuador also enjoy going to clubs and salsa dancing.
The typical diet in Ecuador varies depending on the region; in the mountains corn and potatoes often accompany meat, while in other areas rice and beans are more popular. Soup is eaten with almost every meal and there are all kinds of fresh fruits to enjoy. Some favorite dishes include fried chicken with rice, pastries filled with meat or cheese, seafood marinated in lime, and plantain soup.
The Ecuadorian school year runs from April to January on the coast and from September to June in the mountains. Your typical day will begin at 7 am and end around 2 pm. Unlike high school students in the United States, students in Ecuador usually stay in the same classroom while the teachers move around. Ecuadorian schools also tend to be academically oriented and don’t offer many extracurricular activities.
"Life-changing" is hard to describe, yet it’s nearly always the first thing that AFSers say when asked about their experience abroad.
"Transformed" is another one. When you return home, if you’re like most AFSers, you’ll bring with you a sense of accomplishment unlike any other. You’ll have gained maturity and independence, discovered new passions, and feel like you can do anything you set your mind to. That transformation isn’t visible only to you, though - others see it as well. AFSers gain critical skills for college and careers, ranging from language fluency to intercultural competence and critical reasoning. "Life-changing" means it’s only the beginning.
Please Note: Travel date ranges are meant to help with general scheduling and are subject to change; please don’t book any travel based on these dates until you’ve received confirmation from AFS. All programs, prices, and travel dates are subject to change without notice.