Ecuador is a patchwork of highland and jungle, colonial cities, snowcapped volcanoes, unspoiled beaches, the Amazon rain forest, and the wonder and magic of the Galápagos Islands. Perched on a high plateau in the Andes Mountains, the city of Quito has been the heart and soul of Ecuador since the times of the great Inca empire. Founded in 1534 by the Spanish conquistador Sebastián Benalcázar, Quito takes great pride in its rich colonial tradition, preserved to this day in the architecture and splendor of its churches and monasteries. Because of its beauty and historical wealth, Quito has been named Patrimony of Humanity by UNESCO. Yet Quito is also a bustling metropolis: directly north of the colonial city lie sprawling modern neighborhoods with contemporary architecture, high-rise office towers, chic outdoor cafés, nightclubs, and spacious shopping plazas. Indigenous, Spanish, and contemporary influences blend together in this wonderful place that 1.5 million call home.
Located in the Tumbaco Valley, just outside Quito, the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) is a new, small, private university enrolling 4,000 students. Founded in 1988 and modeled on the American university system, USFQ offers programs of study in the humanities, business administration, development studies, and applied sciences.
Following a 15-hour intensive Spanish language review, students select courses from the institution’s wide-ranging curriculum and are fully-integrated with Ecuadorian students in immersion classes. In addition, students take a semester long Spanish language course and a course on Ecuadorian history and culture taught by the BC on-site coordinator. Up to two science courses can be taken in English. There is also a community health course developed and offered specifically to BC nursing students.
Students participate in community service projects 8-10 hours per week during the semester. Placements include: tutoring children or supervising playtime activities for children in rural schools; working in orphanages and shelters; volunteering with environmental agencies or human rights organizations; and assisting in family clinics.
Preceding each semester, BC students participate in a week-long orientation program. In addition, the on-site coordinator and the university organize seminars, cultural activities, and excursions designed for visiting students.
Students are assigned a faculty advisor from the host university. The BC on-site coordinator provides additional academic advising and arranges tutorials as needed.
Home stays with local families in Quito are arranged by the on-site coordinator. Students have individual rooms and receive two meals per day.
Beyond university-sponsored events, clubs, and sports, BC students participate in regular activities and excursions organized by the Boston College on-site coordinator. Among them: a four-day trip to the Amazon rain forest with canoeing; hikes through the jungle and a visit to La Isla Anaconda; a trip to the Galápagos Islands (fall only); and a trip to Peru and Bolivia (spring only). Outdoor activities include mountain biking, hiking, white-water rafting, and camping. Students may also visit the indigenous market at the Plaza de los Ponchos, the cloud forests of Mindo, the ruins of Ingapirca, the Cotopaxi National Park, and the beaches of Pedernales.