So you want to go to Ecuador with Evolution and Ecology Across Latitudes


Ecuador Specific FAQs


Q: What’s the plan?

A: The plan is still in development, but the broad outline is this:

  • Fall quarter we’ll be in the Pacific Northwest, on one, maybe two, multi-day trips, including to the San Juan Islands in week 4.
  • Near the beginning of Winter quarter, sometime in January, we will all (30 students plus the faculty) head to Ecuador, and spend 9 – 10 weeks together there. The study abroad fee refers to Winter quarter only.
  • For several weeks in Spring quarter, students may choose to conduct research in the neotropics, or back in the Pacific Northwest. Depending on where they choose to live and do research, cost of living will vary, but it is possible to live quite cheaply in tropical America if you try.


Q: What’s the cost for Winter quarter?

A. We are still figuring this out, but our best current estimate is:

  • $6,500 study abroad fee, which covers all food, lodging, and transportation in-country for Winter quarter.
  • Tuition (whatever tuition will be for you next year).
  • International airfare to Quito, Ecuador (about $1,000).
  • About $500 in necessary incidentals before you go to Ecuador. These include but may not be limited to: passport; yellow fever (and other) vaccinations; malaria prophylaxis; medical insurance (required in some form to travel abroad with an Evergreen program); and some gear such as quick-dry pants and rubber boots.


Q: That’s a lot of money. How am I going to afford this?

A. It is a lot of money, and we guarantee that we will run this trip as inexpensively as possible. Student study abroad fees pay only for student travel and experiences; Evergreen pays for faculty expenses from a different fund. Any money not spent will come back to the students at the end of the trip. That said, two possibilities for paying for this include:

  • Putting in a request for more financial aid, which is almost always accepted for required fees for a program. If you get loans, of course, this will increase your total debt, however.
  • Some scholarships exist, one of which has been particularly valuable to students on past study abroad trips. If you are eligible for and receive Pell Grants, you should look into, and apply for, a Gilman Scholarship, which awards up to $5,000 to defray costs of study abroad. The deadline for application is October 6, Tuesday of the second week of Fall quarter, and you need to put a lot of stuff together for the app, so you’ll need to work on it before classes start. For those who get it, too, the timing of award is not perfect, so you’ll need to have some money liquid to pay for the deposit on study abroad, plus buying your plane ticket and other incidentals, from a different source.


Q: In Winter quarter, where all are we going to go?

A. Again, this is still being figured out, but hopefully the itinerary will include:

  • Spanish language learning and home-stays in Cuenca
  • the Amazon rainforest
  • Andean cloud and pre-montane forest
  • Páramo—above tree line in the Andes
  • Coastal dry forest and mangroves
  • The Galápagos


Q: I’m not in great physical shape, but it sounds like there will be some physically demanding work associated with the Ecuador trip. Is that a problem?

A: Maybe. We will do some work in Fall quarter which will hopefully help everyone move towards physical fitness, or at least understand the rigors of field work so that you can be motivated to get fit on your own. You don’t need to be a triathlete to do tropical research, but you should be in good enough physical shape such that you can, for instance hike all day in hot, humid conditions with a pack, or pull yourself out of deep muck wearing ill-fitting rubber boots, and not complain too much while you’re doing it.


Q: I am a strict vegetarian. Will my dietary needs be met in Ecuador?

A: Probably not entirely. When you travel to another people’s culture, the best approach for everyone involved is to make yourself as unobtrusive and inoffensive as possible. While rice and beans are a dietary staple in South America, animal fat is often used to cook the beans—it will sometimes be impossible or at least disrespectful to request food cooked without animal products. You can certainly survive a trip to Ecuador without eating any pieces of meat, but you may end up ingesting animal products in other forms.


Q: I’m excited about the program, but have never been in the tropics before. Is that a problem?

A: No, not if you are prepared to abandon some preconceptions that you probably don’t even know you have, once we’re in Ecuador. Other personality traits that aid in tropical travel and research are flexibility, courage and awareness of one’s own limitations, a tendency to try solve your own problems, flexibility, a sense of humor, a fundamental team ethic that includes looking out for other members of the group, heat tolerance, and flexibility. Also, flexibility. And, an ability to switch back and forth between “research time” (when you may be, for instance, taking carefully timed observations) and “tropical time,” when things will surely not arrive or occur when you expect them to.


Q: If there are 50 students in the program in Fall quarter, but only 30 going to Ecuador in Winter, how do you decide who gets to go?

A: It would be great if exactly 30 of our 50 Fall quarter students wanted to go to Ecuador in Winter. If there are more than that, we will decide on the basis of what we have seen in the class in Fall quarter, with particular reference to some of the traits mentioned in the previous answer—problem solving ability, team ethic, intellectual contributions, maturity, and yes, flexibility.

Here is a list of attitudes and traits that you should have to do study abroad successfully in this program (this is also the second page of the May 2015 Academic Fair handout).

Q: Has this program happened before, and is it likely to happen again?

A: This program is new, but in Winter of 2014, Heather ran a six-week study abroad trip in Ecuador, and in the Winter of 2009, a 5.5 week study abroad trip through Panama. We are hoping to run this program again in 2018-2019.