UEES International Programs begin with an Orientation Tour that allows students to see, experience and learn about Ecuador while receiving all the practical information they will need to help them adjust to the culture and get the most from their time in Latin America.
The tour starts in the capital Quito (the first city in the world to be named a UNESCO World Heritage Site): a mix of immense colonial charm and modern convenience. The program then travels to the world-famous Otavalo indigenous market and nearby communities, before heading south through the Avenue of the Volcanoes.
For Semester in Ecuador students, the tour also includes a visit to the indigenous weavers of Salasaca, and a chance to hike on the slopes of Ecuador's highest mountain, Chimborazo.
During the Orientation Tour, students receive advice on health and safety, cultural adjustment, courses and internships, and – most importantly – how to live with a local host family. They also get to know each other and form friendships with students from all over the world.
Each week participants meet to discuss their process of adjustment to their new reality, sharing experiences with each other as they begin to understand more about where they are. This is aided by guest lecturers that give talks on a variety of topics related to the culture and issues of Ecuador and Latin America . Areas covered include history, ecology, public health, press freedom, the resource curse, and populism.
Since the seminar is an integral part of the program, attendance and participation are required.