Quito, Ecuador’s capital city, is nestled in the Andes Mountains and is approximately two miles above sea level. Its population of nearly two million makes it the second largest city in the country. Prior to the arrival of the Incas in the 1400s, Quito was occupied by other indigenous groups. Following the fall of the Incas to the invading Spanish conquistadores in the 1500s, Catholic sects built elaborate churches and convents. Quito became a center of colonial administration and art. The city’s historic center was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1978 and it is known for being one of the largest and most well-preserved colonial areas in the Americas. Students can study this beautiful city and get to know the “serranos” or “Quiteños,” as residents of Quito are called while enjoying a temperate climate with just two seasons (dry and rainy).
Students selecting Quito as their study abroad destination will complete their coursework at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ). The USFQ is a private institution that began its operations in 1988, was recognized by the Ecuadorian Ministry of Education in 1995 and formally accredited in 2001. It was recently ranked as the #1 university in Ecuador by the QS Latin American University rankings. USFQ has a strong tradition of welcoming American students to its campus in Cumbayá, the valley immediately outside of Quito. The university’s first international agreements dating back to the early 1990s, and the university now manages over 100 agreements with academic institutions around the world and enrolls over 7,000 degree-seeking students.
At USFQ, students benefit from a campus that is reminiscent of a small liberal arts campus in the United States. Its colorful buildings provide a charming and picturesque setting and its extensive library provides the perfect plan to conduct research or meet up with other students to study. Courses are offered with timetables similar to those in the U.S. and meet for 2-3 sessions per week. All courses are the equivalent of 3 U.S. semester credits, with the exception of any physical education courses which do not carry academic credit for visiting students.
Students choosing to participate in the API service-learning program in Quito will divide their time between volunteering at local projects and completing online coursework. Transcripts for the service-learning course are issued by U.S.-accredited Siena College.
“If there is one thing I've learned from six weeks living in a foreign country, it's to embrace every experience or opportunity that comes your way. It is often the ones you could never have planned or predicted that will become a part of your most cherished memories..."