Ecuador’s rich biodiverse Amazon Rainforest, stunning Andes Mountains, sun-drenched-beaches, volcanic islands, breathtaking colonial centers and indigenous villages are all packed full of culture. Ecuador’s small size allows you to visit several of the country’s dazzling array of wonders. Ecuador is also a great place to strengthen and develop your Spanish language skills, as it is known for a soft and clear accent that is easy for visitors to understand and has earned Ecuador the title of "the best country in Latin American to learn Spanish."



Languages Spoken:

Quechua, Spanish

Education System

HIGHER EDUCATION OVERVIEW 

The higher education system in Ecuador has two types of institutions: public and private. 

There are three levels of higher education: associate's degrees (awarded at technical schools much like U.S. community colleges), bachelor’s degrees and engineering degrees (from universities and polytechnic institutions), and graduate schools (universities and polytechnic institutions). Graduate schools offer three kinds of degrees: specialization, master's degrees and Ph.D.s. Due to new academic reforms, the academic period has two regular semesters and one intensive semester, starting in February and finishing in December. 

The instructional strategies are also changing. Lectures are still a principal method of teaching at certain institutions, but in others, there are more active and significant ways for learning. In all cases, class attendance is mandatory. The grading system ranges from zero (lowest) to ten (highest).  

 

STUDYING IN ECUADOR 

Courses 

Courses offered include subjects such as art, business, communications, education, environmental studies, health, political science, anthropology, sociology, Quechua (an indigenous language), Spanish and Portuguese. Courses are available in both English and Spanish at both campuses, though there are language proficiency requirements for those who wish to enroll in Spanish-language courses.  

Registration 

You will register for courses in advance of arriving on campus; be sure to check in with your host institution coordinator for policies and procedures for enrollment.  

Course Load 

At Universidad Casa Grande, you will take five to six courses per term, spending around 20 hours per week in class. Terms typically last 14-15 weeks. 

Exams & Grading 

Though there isn't a uniform method of assessment in Ecuadorian universities, many use a numbered grade system from zero to ten, where a six (aceptable/satisfactorio, or acceptable, satisfactory) of higher is a passing grade. A high mark of nine to ten (sobresaliente, or excellent) is rarely awarded. 

Transcripts 

UCG issues transcripts for fall semester students in February and for spring semester students in September, upon the settlement of all outstanding bills and completing the exchange survey. 

Visa and Residency

Please note that there are different visa procedures for Ecuador depending on your ISEP program. Please consult the program-specific information below and contact your ISEP Program Manager with any questions. 

CEDEI - Semester in the Andes program in Cuenca

Students studying in Cuenca with CEDEI will enter as tourists and will not need to apply for a student visa. The tourist visa you will obtain upon entry into Ecuador is valid for 90 days. Since the semester is longer than 90 days, students will need to apply for an extension of the tourist visa before the end of the first 90-day period. This process will need to be done once in Cuenca and CEDEI will provide further details to the students upon their arrival. Fees will apply. All students entering Ecuador will be required to show proof of insurance coverage when entering the country. Students should download a copy of their Confirmation of Insurance Coverage letter from the "Insurance" section of their ISEP Dashboard and pack a hard copy of the letter in their carry-on luggage. 

Universidad Casa Grande - Guayaquil 

Students studying in Ecuador at Universidad Casa Grande in Guayaquil should apply for a Temporary Resident Student Visa (Residencia Temporal-Estudiante) in advance of their arrival in Ecuador. Students should begin the process of contacting their local consulate to confirm specific requirements and begin collecting the required paperwork at least 4 months prior to their departure for Ecuador. 

Students should start the visa process by contacting their local Ecuadorian Consulate to review application requirements and procedures. The contact information for the Consulates General of Ecuador in the United States can be found here. Each consulate has slightly different paperwork and application requirements. You should follow the specific requirements given by your consulate exactly. Your local Ecuadorian consulate is the official source of all visa information.

Students should then register with the Virtual Consulate of Ecuador to upload visa documentation and have their application reviewed by Ecuadorian immigration authorities. Most students will be required to have an in-person interview at the Ecuadorian Consulate for their jurisdiction as the final step in the visa application process. If you have questions regarding the student visa application, you must contact your local Ecuadorian consulate. ISEP cannot contact consulates on behalf of students.

Important: Some students, particularly those applying from the United States, have experienced significant issues applying for a student visa depending on the consulate for their jurisdiction. If students are experiencing issues with their consulate, please note it is also possible to enter Ecuador on a tourist visa and apply for an extension once in Guayaquil (fees will apply). The international office staff at Universidad Casa Grande will be able to guide students through the extension process. It is recommended that students first research the student visa application process through their local consulate, as it can be a lengthy and complicated process to apply for the tourist visa extension once in Guayaquil, requiring visits to several government offices. However, if students experience difficulties with their local consulate, it is recommended that they plan to enter as a tourist and extend the tourist visa once in-country. Students should contact their ISEP Program Manager with any questions about the visa process. Students entering without a Ecuador without a Visa de Residencia Temporal-Estudiante will be required to show proof of insurance coverage when entering the country. Students should download their Confirmation of Insurance Coverage letter from the Insurance section of the ISEP Dashboard and pack a hard copy in their carry-on luggage. 

 

General Document Requirements:

All documentation in a language other than Spanish should be duly translated into Spanish and, in turn, must have the respective signature of the translator's signature before a public notary. 

Fill out ISEP's online visa form if you will be applying for the student visa for Ecuador via your local consulate.  ISEP will issue a visa letter in Spanish within two weeks of receiving this form. This letter will serve as your "proof of sufficient funds."

1) Application form (completed online via the Virtual Consulate of Ecuador

2) Original and copy of valid passport

3) Apostilled certificate of criminal record of the country of origin or of the places where you have resided for the last 5 years. Please note that these background checks can often take a significant time to process. It is advisable to request them at the time you accept your ISEP program to avoid delays. Most consulates will accept only a National-level or State/Regional-level police checks, and some consulates may require applicants to submit both. Consult the specific requirements of your consulate, and follow them exactly. Te background check(s) is your proof that you are not "considered a threat to Ecuador." 

State or Regional-Level Background Check: If your consulate accepts this background check you will need to obtain the document from the appropriate state-wide/regional police body. Be sure to check with the office that will issue the Apostille Seal of the Hague if any additional seals, signatures, etc., will be needed in order to authenticate the document.

National Background Check: If your consulate requires this background check you will need to obtain the document from the appropriate national police body. Be sure to check with the office that will issue the Apostille Seal of the Hague if any additional seals, signatures, etc., will be needed in order to authenticate the document. 

NOTE: In the U.S. a National Background Check is obtained from the FBI. When requesting your FBI Background Check, you submit a request that the document include the FBI seal and the signature of a division official. You will need the signature and seal to obtain the Apostille Seal of the Hague from the US Department of State. The FBI Background Check can take up to 16 weeks. For a faster processing time ISEP highly recommends that students submit their request via Electronic Departmental Order or use a FBI-approved channeler.

4) Proof of sufficient funds for the length of your stay in Ecuador (Letter of Certification in Spanish issued by ISEP)

5) Official Acceptance Letter from Universidad Casa Grande certifying your status as an attending student (provided directly by Universidad Casa Grande)

6) Proof of insurance coverage for the length of your stay in Ecuador (Confirmation of Insurance Coverage letter in Spanish issued by ISEP - downloadable as a PDF from the Insurance section of students' ISEP Dashboard once they you have enrolled in insurance)

Page Updated: April 2, 2019

Culture

COMMUNICATION STYLE

Ecuadorians like to get close to communicate. They use their hands a lot during conversations, and can tend to be louder than the North American and European cultures.

There are significant conversational differences between people from the Coast and from the Sierra (highlands). In cities at higher altitudes, people value tradition and formality. In the tropical and beachfront cities, voice inflection conveys more emotion and a fast-paced way of life.

GREETINGS

Ecuador is an affectionate society. In social settings, a kiss on the right cheek is appropriate between women, or between men and women. In a professional environment, a handshake with a greeting for the time of the day is customary: "buenos días" (good morning), "buenas tardes" (good afternoon), or "buenas noches" (good evening).

FOOD

Ecuador is known for its exquisite exotic fruits, fish, seafood and countless varieties of Andean potatoes. The cuisine varies depending on the region; however, most meals include starch. It is possible to have several varieties of starch in one meal, such as green plantain, rice, corn, yucca, potato and pasta. Green plantains (a cousin to the sweet banana) are also popular throughout Ecuador and are prepared in a variety of ways. They tend to be firmer and lower in sugar than sweet bananas.

Since Guayaquil is on the coast, there is a great variety of seafood, especially shrimp. Beans and corn are staples in the Ecuadorian diet.

Lunch (almuerzo) is the main meal of the day. A typical almuerzo usually takes place between 1and 3 p.m. It consists of soup as a first course, followed by rice and beans with meat, chicken or fish. Most dishes in Ecuador are complemented by a traditional hot sauce known as ají. Similar to Tabasco sauce, you will find ají in almost all restaurants and in your family home. It’s a good idea to taste it before spreading it all over your meal as each will have its own intensity of spiciness.

FAMILY

The Ecuadorian family is the most important unit in the country. Ecuadorians have a large circle of relatives, who are extended through 'compadrazgo.' Relationships are generally strong in family life.

Daily Life

COMMUNICATION STYLE

Ecuadorians like to get close to communicate. They use their hands a lot during conversations, which tend to be louder than the North American and European cultures.

There are significant conversational differences between people from the Coast and from the Sierra (highlands). In cities at higher altitudes, people value tradition and formality. In the tropical and beachfront cities, voice inflection reveals more emotion and a fast-paced way of life.

GREETINGS

Ecuador is an affective society. In social scenery, a kiss in the right chick is appropriate between women, and also between men and women. In a professional ambiance, handshakes and greetings for the time of the day: "buenos días" (good morning), "buenas tardes" (good afternoon), or "buenas noches" (good evening).

FOOD

Ecuador is known for its exquisite exotic fruits, fish, seafood and countless varieties of Andean potatoes. The cuisine varies depending on the region; however, most meals include starch. It is possible to have several varieties of starch in one meal, such as green plantain, rice, corn, yucca, potato and pasta. Green plantains (a cousin to the sweet banana) are also popular throughout Ecuador and are prepared in a variety of ways. They tend to be firmer and lower in sugar than sweet bananas.

Since Guayaquil is on the coast, there is a great variety of seafood, especially shrimp. Beans and corn are staples in the Ecuadorian diet.

Lunch (almuerzo) is the main meal of the day. A typical almuerzo usually takes place between 1and 3 p.m. It consists of soup as a first course, followed by rice and beans with meat, chicken or fish. Most dishes in Ecuador are complemented by a traditional hot sauce known as ají. Similar to Tabasco sauce, you will find ají in almost all restaurants and in your family home. It’s a good idea to taste it before spreading it all over your meal as each will have its own intensity of spiciness.

FAMILY

The Ecuadorian family is the most important unit in the country. Ecuadorians have a large circle of relatives, who are extended through 'compadrazgo.' Relationships are generally strong in family life.

Health and Safety

Your health and safety is our number one priority. Please read and reference the Health and Safety section of the ISEP website for general information regarding health and safety abroad. 

- Detailed information about Ecuador can be found here. Please pay special attention to the Safety and Security, Local Laws and Special Circumstances and Health sections. Non-U.S nationals should disregard the Embassies and Consulates and Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements sections regarding travel to Ecuador. 

- Please review the CDC's Health Information for Travelers to Ecuador.

-If you’re planning to bring your prescription or over-the-counter medicine on your trip, you need to make sure your medicine is travel-ready. More information can be found here, and please contact your Program Manager and Host ISEP Coordinator with any additional questions. 

Note: Information sourced on this page is provided by the U.S. Department of State and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Currency

CURRENCY

Since September 2000, the U.S. dollar is the official currency of Ecuador. While every U.S. dollar can be used in Ecuador, the contrary is not necessarily true. Local coins stamped in Ecuador (1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 cents) are not accepted abroad.

While credit cards are not as common throughout the country as might be in other places, they are becoming more common. Credit cards will normally be accepted in hotels, shopping malls, restaurants and other establishments in large cities. Be sure to travel with cash if you are going to smaller towns.

The most common cards are Visa and MasterCard. Be aware of your ATM or credit card company’s policy for use in a foreign country as they might charge an extra fee for charges or withdrawals made in foreign currency. Also, if you are going to use your credit or debit card, be sure to inform your local bank before leaving in order to not be locked out of your account. Almost all major banks in the country will have an ATM which will accept cards issued from banks outside Ecuador.

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