Universidad de Especialidades Espíritu Santos (UEES)

La UEES is a very nice campus. The campus is breath taking and its student body is pretty small, but with great people. The university was founded in 1993 by a man named Dr. Carlos Ortega Maldonado. It has about 5,000 undergraduate students. Sometimes when I am just hanging out waiting for my class to start, I sit by one of the many fountains and I just feel like I’m in a resort. The Guayaquil airport is only minutes away from the University so planes are flying really close above the campus. It looks as though the planes are going to land on campus.
The University has many majors in which brings a lot of students to the school. There most popular majors are Liberal Arts, Culinary Arts, Business, Communications, Law, and Medicine. On the first day of class it was interesting to see how the student was like. The university is a commuter school and they only have a few on-campus housing only for women. The students at the university are very interesting people. One example would be there style of dressing eg. the medical students ware scrubs and medical jackets, the culinary arts students ware chef uniforms, the liberal arts students have an artsy style, and the communication, business, and law students have the professional style wardrobe. It is very interesting to see how the student body dresses and make it seem as if they are already doctors, laws etc. On my first class of the day, communication theory, I felt a bit out of place. I was dressed very casually, while everyone in my class was dressed very professional.
This semester is going to be a real challenge. I am taking regular major courses all taught in Spanish. My classes are very demanding and there is a lot of work to do. For the first couple of weeks, I was feeling very overwhelmed because even though I speak the language my reading and writing is not up to par. But the professors are very accommodating and are willing to work with me every step of the way. I know that by the end of this academic year, my Spanish will be impeccable.

My Host Family

After a long week of traveling the Sierra (the northern part of Ecuador), we finally arrived to the cost to a city called Sambróndon, Ecuador where the University and our new home is located—which is minutes away from Guayaquil, Ecuador-the biggest city in all of Ecuador. As we are approaching the campus, our director of the program tells us that our host families are sitting in university auditorium waiting patiently for us. As soon as she said that, I began to feel my anxiety level increase. I began to feel extra hot and felt as though my heart was going to rip out of my chest. I was very nervous and many thoughts were running through my mind.

We all lined up in a single fill line and walked into the room where all the families were. I immediately spotted my host mom and dad. The mom looked very anxious as well. At that time I felt as though my mom had no idea what I looked like because when my name and the families name was called out, she immediately got up and looked very surprised. The look in her eyes was shocking yet pleased to see me. She along with my host dad immediately came to me and hugged me. For a moment there I felt like an orphan child who was immediately given a family for the first time to be nurtured and cared for. I was very happy and so were they. We walked outside the auditorium together to grab my suite cases and head home. On the way home in the car we were able to chat a little to get to know each other. Upon arriving home they showed me around there huge home and then to my room.

Later on that evening, my host sister came home with her cousin and soon came into my room and the three of us began to chat and get to know each other. The girls got very comfortable and very happy that we had a lot of things in common. After the 3rd day, we felt like we all knew each other from a long time ago.

I have to say that even though it has only been 4 weeks with living with them, I feel like I’ve known them my whole life. They are very open and warming to me, making me feel like I belong in the family. I still haven’t experienced homesickness because the family has been so welcoming and catering to my every need.

History and Adventure en la Sierra

This is already the ending of week two here in Ecuador. Last week we were able to visit the Equator which was a great experience. Our orientation program took us to various museums to learn and explore various parts of the Sierra region in Ecuador.

We were able to visit the Equator where we learn a lot about its history and its people. To prove that we were in the middle of the world they had us do a couple of test. Some of us were able to balance an egg on a needle (which I couldn’t believe my eyes), we attempted to walk the latitude line o’ o’ o’’ (which was very difficult), along with a couple of more interesting activities. I was very fascinated by all of this. While I was standing in the middle of the world, I felt proud and accomplished for doing something that has never been done before.

We then were able to learn about the different indigenous cultures that are found in Ecuador. Ecuador has approximately 12-14 different indigenous language that still exist today (impressive huh?). We were able to visit the home of an indigenous family and they were very welcoming and kind. They took us around their home and spoke to us a little bit about their culture. A few things that I learned from their culture were that they spoke Kichwa—which is a language spoken in 14 different towns all over the Amazon, the cost, and all over the Andes region. Their specialty dish and their most prized animal is the Guinea Pig. For us Americans and for other people in different parts of the world, would see a Guinea pig as a pet; people in Sierra (the northern part of Ecuador), Guinea pigs (El cui) are food. I wasn’t given the opportunity to try a Guinea Pig yet, but from what I’ve heard it taste just like chicken. I’m going to be here for quite some time, so if and when I do get the opportunity too, I will let you know.

To end the last week of training, we were taken to a town called Riobamba—which is a town in the north that has the highest volcano in Ecuador. The volcano Chimborazo is 6,268 meters (20,564 ft) high above ground. Chimborazo is in very high altitude. We were given the opportunity to climb Chimborazo, but only to the first and second refuge. I was only able to climb to the first refuge because the high altitude was making me feel very dizzy. I was able to drink some hot tea and sit around a nice wood fire with some friends of the program. I must add that during this first week in the North part of Ecuador, it was very cold. I was not well informed that it was going to be cold in the Sierra region of Ecuador.

Overall, this past week has been a phenomenal week. I was able to learn a lot about the Ecuadorian history, and visit a lot of their historical landmarks. I am very pleased with my choice of study abroad program. All the people that I’ve encountered here thus far have been wonderful and helpful. The fall exchange group has been a wonderful support group for each other and I couldn’t ask for a better experiences then this one!






I have finally arrived to Quito, Ecuador. Traveling to Ecuador was not as easy as I thought it would be. Prior to my trip to Ecuador, I was a bit worried due to a hurricane that was near the coast of Miami where my connecting flight to Ecuador was. I was very nervous because there were speculations of the hurricane hitting the Miami area and that would mean that my flight would be cancelled; thankfully my flight was good to go. On the day of my trip it was very crazy day due to bad inclement weather in Miami. My plane from NY couldn’t land in the Miami airport because the airport was closed. Then once we finally got to Miami, the people from the airport had me running around like crazy. I had to jump from the plane and find my terminal. One thing I learned from this experience is to always keep your cool and ask questions—to several people just to make sure. After all the hassle in the Miami airport, I was finally able to find my terminal and relax till my plane arrived. Once in the plane, I was able to sit back and relax. Sitting next to me was a woman who is a Guayaquil native and she was telling me all the things I needed to know about the city of Guayaquil. I was very lucky to have met this lady because she made me feel more confident and comfortable with the idea of living in Guayaquil.
Once arriving to the Quito airport, I was able to quickly get out of my plane, go through customs, and pick up my luggage to head outside and find a representative from the university whom was waiting for me. Once I met up with him, I was able to chat with him and meet the other students that were already waiting for me as well. We headed back to the hotel and I made it to my room. It was a pleasant surprise to know that my roommate was a student from SUNY Newpaltz. Once I got into the room, my roommate was already asleep and had left me a really nice note on my bed introducing herself and giving me a warm welcome. After making a little bit of noise she wakes up and we soon clicked and became great friends.
The following day was amazing. I was able to meet the rest of the international students, whom are amazing people from all over the USA, France, Canada, Australia, Belgium, Taiwan, and Japan. Everyone is very fun to be around and very friendly. I immediately connected with almost everyone.
Today was the beginning of our week tour of Ecuador. We were able to visit the “Capilla del Hombre” which is a place where Guayasamin, a famous Ecuadorian put to display a lot of hit art work. His art works were really about the different races and the inequality that were found in the country. Through his work we were able to learn a lot more about the history of Ecuador.
Soon after the museum trip, we were able to hit the mall and grab some lunch. There, I was able to converse with the other international students and getting to know them better. After lunch we were able to visit historical landmark of Quito, Ecuador. We went to an amazing cathedral that is the biggest cathedral in all of Latin America. We then tour the city of Quito, visiting the Presidents palace, along with many other historical centers. Soon after our tour we went out to dinner and then hit the dance floor at a salsa club where we all were able to let loose and dance to Latin rhythms.
For the rest of the week we are heading out to different cities and towns of Ecuador to learn more about the country and its culture. We will be visiting the equator, indigenous weavers, Folk musicians, craft markets, and much more.

Dreams Do Come True

Since I started my freshmen year of college I knew I wanted to study abroad. Just the thoughts of getting on a plane to another country to live, learn the language and culture, and travel within the country and other surrounding countries has been something that I have been looking forward to doing for a long time. Here I am one week before my departure to Ecuador, and I can’t even believe this is actually going to happen. I am very pleased to embark on a life changing journey that will be filled with a lot of positive opportunities.

Planning this academic year trip to Ecuador has definitely been an experience of its own. After doing extensive research on all the different study abroad programs that are out there within the SUNY system, I realized that going to Guayaquil, Ecuador through SUNY New Paltz (NP) was going to be the best fit for me. I research the city of Guayaquil along with the university that I will be attending in Ecuador called La Universidad de Especialidades Espíritue Santos (UEES). I went on the university website to check out what kind of programs they offer such as classes, extracurricular programs, seminars, etc. I went on to youtube to see a virtual tour of the campus and the city of Guayaquil.

After getting accepted into the program, the process of doing all the necessary paper works has been a roller coaster ride. I had to speak with my advisors for class selections, making several visits to my home financial aid office, make several calls to my study abroad advisor from NP, and so on. The real challenge of making this trip a reality were all the ups and downs that I had encountered while attempting to get my student visa in the NYC consulate and all of the visits to the doctor’s office to get all of my vaccinations.

This summer was a summer like no other. I definitely had a lot going on.  Even though I had a lot of frustrating moments I knew that there was going to be a positive end result. I definitely learned a lot to make me a more successful, independent and responsible person. I must also say that both my study abroad advisors in NP and in Ecuador were important element in making this dream come true. They were able to get me through the few bumps that I had encountered and were always quick to answer me back with any question I had through email. It couldn’t have been easier without them.

There is one week left before my trip, and during this week I will begin packing, spending quality time with friends and family and prepare myself physically and mentally for what is about come.  I am very excited for the next couple of days to go on by.