I took part in the travelling programme in May 2016, doing the "Walking through the Andes" trip. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience in every respect. I felt really looked after on every stage of the trip (or even before as Eugenio, the director of the school, went out of his way to accommodate a few special requests I had and even picked me up from the airport). I got the feeling that ISE really care about the well-being of the student and you aren't just a number there.
Travelling with my teacher Vanessa was just great! Not only is she a great teacher, with the right mixture of rigour and fun, but also a wonderful travelling companion. She took me on a trip first North to Otavalo and then south as far as Cuenca, taking in the main tourist sites along this route. What I liked especially was that I was the only student, so effectively I had my private teacher. I still can't believe myself how much my Spanish improved in the short period of just 12 days. I arrived in Quito with a sound grounding in grammar but little speaking and listening practice, but after speaking with Vanessa all day and honing my skills in the "official" Spanish class I left with language skills fluid enough to hold a conversation about most of my interests (not only the usual tourist stuff). That was really due to Vanessa's willingness to adapt the classes to my needs and to teach me the vocabulary I needed rather than just following a set course. It was just an added benefit that much of the time I did not even realise that I was being taught, I felt as if I was just travelling with a friend. I'd like to add that although my biggest difficulty with Spanish had always been oral comprehension (why do people speak so fast???!) I had no problems at all understanding Vanessa. She speaks very clearly and adapts the level of her sentences to what the student can cope with, but without giving you the feeling you are treated like a little child, so I was never left with that frustrating feeling of being out of my depth that I've sometimes known on other language courses. I'm a language teacher myself, so I know how difficult it is to challenge a student but not frustrate them and I feel that Vanessa did a great job there.
What I possibly liked best on the whole journey was that I could ask Vanessa any question regarding Ecuador, the country, its people, cultures, customs and she would answer openly and knowledgably. In this way I learned more about Ecuador than I could have ever done as a normal tourist on a two week trip. I really enjoyed travelling the country by public bus like any normal Ecuatorian would rather than being taxied in and out like the typical foreign tourist, and also sampling the local cuisine. By the way: all buses, restaurants, hostels etc. were perfectly clean and safe and none of the warnings in my guide book about stomach problems, terrible roads, questionable bathrooms etc. came true!
This trip was my first time in South America so I came with little idea of what Ecuador would be like and I left with definite plans of going back hopefully sooner rather than later. There are some other travelling tours that ISE have on offer that sound very interesting and I will certainly think about taking part in one of them again! Until then: Thank you Vanessa, thank you Eugenio and thank you ISE – mil gracias!
Sebastian von Bruun-Riegels
One of the best months of my life :)
I did a four-week Spanish language study period at ISE and found the language school very suitable for improving my Spanish skills as the school provided very tailored and flexible teaching with emphasis on individual sessions. In general, I also found the city of Quito to be a good place for
Spanish studies due to the rather clear accent of the locals, the variety of the city itself and the central location of the city making it a good base for exploring Ecuador on weekends.
I studied at ISE in Quito for three weeks and additionally participated on a one-week long travelling classroom program, where several places of interest were visited in the Andes and Amazon regions using public transportation while simultaneously learning Spanish. In my case, the travel group consisted of one student in addition to myself and the teacher (Hola Vanessa :) Espero que todo vaya bien contigo!), with whom I had already studied one week in Quito prior to the travelling week. In other words, the three-person group was very small, which made the learning more efficient and personal. The school itself had a very nice atmosphere with great activities such as cooking sessions and common coffee breaks in the afternoon, and also they had a nice cooperation with one of the local salsa studios, which lead to me picking up a new hobby that still continues back home in Finland!
For the three weeks in Quito, the accommodation was organized in an Ecuadorian family by the school. The accommodation, where a varying number of students (max. 6 persons) were housed at the same time, proved to be a very good solution for housing as it supported the Spanish studies in the form of having day-to-day communication mainly with the mother of the family and eased connecting with other students.
First time alone in ecuador - fascinating trip in traveling classroom
I stayed in Ecuador from 17/05 until 01/06/2015 and spent 12 days on a
traveling classroom with Vanessa (Spanish teacher). (Un)fortunately I was the only person who booked this group travel but this turned out to be a very intensive Spanish course for myself – and I liked it a lot!
After arrival I was welcomed cordially by Washington who drove me to my hostal in
the Mariscal district of Quito. He already gave me interesting information about the city and if I would have had more time he would have shown me the Mitad del Mundo.
But my Spanish course already began the following day. Vanessa and me got friends very soon so that we always found themes to talk about and the time passed thus very quickly. I am especially grateful for the amount of background information concerning cultural or ethical points. Vanessa is a very kind, gracious, optimistic and vivid person with whom I experienced a really good time! As I came on my own the first time to Ecuador I was a bit nervous in the beginning concerning safety, public bus transportation and nutrition. This immediately changed after one day with Vanessa. She always informed me in any case if vigilance was necessary. She always accompanied me and gave advice what and
where to eat so that I did not have any problems at all during the whole trip.
The travelling program of “walking through the andes” from Otavalo to Cuenca was
very well balanced between course time an exciting adventures. I really loved the
horse ride at the Laguna Quilotoa and the canopying in Banos – I am sure that I will never forget these experiences! Due to the distances between the sites we had to spend several hours in public busses so that by now my life-quantity should be achieved ☺ - but I tried to use the hours to get into contact with locals and to experience my Spanish.
As the historic train from Alausi was in maintenance we had to change the program a bit. Thus I was able to spend a day in the Cayas nature park which was amazing due to the very impressive landscape. The guide of the travel agency was indeed very well informed not only about nature but historic facts too.
As I travelled in may some of my days where very cloudy and thus I was unfortunately not able to see any snow-covered volcano - which made me a bit sad – so if anything should be changed it is only the weather…. Please correct your description to avoid any more confusion.
In the last days of my time in Ecuador I was able to see Guayaquil and Salinas on
the coast as I had some friends living there. Thus I added to my days in the andes also an impression of the other face of Ecuador.
As a summery I am very happy with my days in Ecuador and the program was perfect for me to get in touch with the country and its inhabitants. However 16 days are not a lot so that I only got an overview of a very beautiful country which is really rich in variety. One day I will certainly come back – not only to see the Galapagos Islands!
Awesome Week in the Amazon Jungle
When i arrived in Quito, i wanted to go asap to the Galapagos Islands,to learn Spanish. I was a little bit sad,that the organisation didn't work in advance - but there was a good reason behind it. So i met Eugenio,to speak about my travelling plans and the other options, the school offers. Three days later i found myself in the wonderful relaxed Yarina-Lodge, to enjoy 5 halfdays private Spanish lessons with my wonderful teacher Vanessa and 5 verry interesting halfdays/nights exploring the rainforest, also private, with Wilson,
In fact,that Vanessa also likes to travel, she was able to teach me the most important words and grammar i use during my trip in South America. But not just the language, she also told me where the best travelling spots are and how i easiely get there.!
I also learned a lot from the guide. He took all the time it needed, to explain me (of course in Spanish and Quechua) the animals, the plants and also the life in the rainforest.
Last but not least, i also got my trip to the Galapagos Islands with a perfect boat-tour, that Eugenio recommended to me.:)
Compliments: First of all a big compliment for the idea and the organisation of the travelling classroom. It is the perfect way to travel, learn a language and the culture of a country - and it doesn't even feel like learning.;)!
Also a big thank you to Eugenio, Vanessa and the other staff - everyone is very kind and helpful, doesn't matter if it is about the school, the travelling or any other problems, also weeks after the studytime.!
Seriously - it was just perfect.:)