Spanish & Service Learning in Ecuador – Research and be prepared for different cultural norms when going to Ecuador. I was shocked to find out that shorts that had been picked out by my mother were not acceptable to wear in Ecuador. I was unprepared and found myself struggling to find proper clothing to wear in the hot weather.
Another thing to be prepared for is that Guayaquil is not often sunny. During my trip it was only sunny a few times, and my t-shirt and shorts weren’t used as much as I had thought I would use them. In Ecuador, visibly foreign females will be cat called when not accompanied by a man. I found this to be particularly hard to become accustomed, as I am very independent in Canada and often go on walks alone. In Ecuador it is pretty unsafe to walk alone, take taxis, busses, or be out at night. It’s not impossible to do things on your own, but being in groups does start feeling like a safe zone.
Although host families are expected to make breakfast, lunch, and dinner when you are home, be sure to bring a lot of extra cash as you will be expected to pay for occasional meals, busses and some excursions through the host university that are not written in the expenses.
A typical day in this program is hard work, but very rewarding. The program starts with being introduced to your host family. The next day the host family takes the students to the University for Tours. After the tours your expected find your way home using the school busses (this can be tricky at first).
The classes begin and students take the school bus to class at 8:30am. Classes go from 9:00am-10:30am then 3:30pm-5:00pm. After these classes its free time to go home and eat, study (bring a laptop), or explore with friends. Half way through the program, the morning class ends and starts into volunteering.
The host university gives the students tours of some of the volunteer placements, and give the students a day to decide. I chose the “Centro Integral de Equinoterapia” where I took two public busses ( cost 30cents one way) to work with the horses from 7:30am to 12:30pm then I would take the same busses back to school for my class at 3:30pm.
During the weekends the students in the program would plan excursions outside the program to different cities in Ecuador. When going on excursions with the school, be aware that not all meals are paid for.
Overall, I loved the trip and the people I met here. I would definitely advise students to consider this program. I now have a beginner level Spanish, and have made friendships that will last a life time. I do intend to revisit Guayaquil Ecuador to see my host family again sometime soon.
Business Administration Student
NSCC Waterfront Campus