Youth For Understanding USA
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What kind of exchange experience do you want?
I want to spend a all program lengths  studying in Ecuador, or maybe all regions. And I'm looking for something with a traditional exchange  and I definitely want to show off my need for  any language skills. Can I go whenever?
  • All around the world.

    all regions
    Africa & Middle East
    Asia & Pacific
    Eastern Europe
    Latin America
    Scandinavian Countries
    Western Europe
    North America
  • Pick a place, any place.

    Say what?

    Any language requirements?

     Any  Yes  No
  • What I'm into.

    a traditional exchange
    a gap year option
    college & university programs
    language classes
    a connection to the Arts
    sports & outdoors
    a volunteer program
  • How long I want to go.

    All program lengths

    When can I leave?

    May to September
    December to March
Show me my options >


Scholarships Available

7 - Epson America, Inc. Internationa...
385 - Holcomb & Farnell Foreign Stud...
314 - The YFU Americas Scholarship
368 - YFU Community Grant
384 - YFU Financial Aid Fund

Age Requirement

Summer: January 27, 2001 - May 27, 2004. Fall Year and Fall Semester: February 27, 2001 - June 29, 2004. Spring Semester: June 29, 2000 - November 30, 2003. University Fall Year and University Fall Semester: January 1, 2000 - January 1, 2002. Volunteer Program: August 1, 1998 - Febuary 1, 2002. Students who do not meet this age requirement or will graduate high school before the start of their program will be considered for admission on a case-by-case basis.


Spanish. Previous language study is not required, but students are expected to be willing and motivated to learn Spanish.

Host Family Placement

Students will be placed with families in cities such as Quito, Ambato, Cuenca, Riobamba, Latacunga and Ibarra in the Sierra region and Santo Domingo, Machala, Portoviejo and Manta in the Costa region.


The academic calendar in Ecuador varies based on region. Year and semester students will be placed in a region where the academic calendar aligns with YFU program dates.


YFU Ecuador offers four cultural excursions throughout the year: Jungle, Ruta del Sol, Volcanoes, and Galapagos Islands. These trips will be offered to students for an additional fee. Students will learn more about these excursions at their arrival orientation in Ecuador.

Ecuador is full of fascinating culture and history -- from the islands where Darwin discovered evolution to the ancient Incan civilization. Discover this rich heritage as a YFU exchange student and you will understand Ecuadorian culture as no tourists do!
Learn more about Ecuador.

Summer Program

Discover Ecuador:  If ecology, biology, anthropology or Spanish fascinates you, join other YFU participants from around the world in this five-week program in Ecuador. You'll live with an Ecuadorian host family and enjoy getting to know the culture from an insider's perspective. Living with a family gives you a chance to truly explore and understand another culture. You will also receive Spanish Language lessons so as to even further immerse yourself in Ecuadorian culture. These lessons are a few hours a week and are designated to each student based on their incoming level of Spanish. 


Cultural Excursions: Day trips to places like the colonial section of Quito, the colorful indigenous market at Otavalo and the equator line are included in the summer program. A four-day, three-night tour of the rainforest is also included with activities that include canoeing and observing monkeys, reptiles, exotic plants, and other wildlife in the region. Students will also learn about the rainforest from trained local guides. Please note that the rainforest trip will only be offered if there are a minimum of five students on program. Students can also opt to take an excursion to the Galapagos Islands, which is a five-day trip that will allow you to tour the islands. 


Orientations: Students will participate in a one-day local pre-departure orientation in May or June. Upon arrival in Ecuador, students will have a one-day orientation to help ease the adjustment into a new culture. Students will also participate in a one-day re-entry orientation prior to departure from Ecuador as a way to reflect with other exchange students about their experiences.  

Academic Year and Semester Programs

There is a loving host family waiting for you in Ecuador!  You can choose from a year, semester,  summer, or university  program in this beautiful country!


School: Ecuador's high school system is divided into three areas: social studies, biological sciences and mathematics. Students take 13 to 14 courses related to their career goals. Most YFU students choose social studies, but you may choose another area of specialization. Ecuadorian students usually study English so you may make friends by having them help you with Spanish and by helping them with English! 


Orientations: All students applying for the semester or year program must be available for a mandatory 3-day National Pre-Departure Orientation, which usually takes place in mid-July or early December. This orientation is a required part of the program aimed at preparing students for their experience overseas. Upon arrival in Ecuador, students will participate in a three-day arrival orientation to help ease their transition into their new culture. There will also be a one-day mid-year orientation for year students and a one-day re-entry orientation for all students. All orientation costs are included in program tuition.


Extracurriculars: Another great way to meet locals is to participate in extracurricular activities and service opportunities in your local Ecuadorian community! One way students will be able to meet others in the community is through volunteering, which will help students to also learn about Ecuador's true culture. Students usually either volunteer for a month while in school, or can expect to be required to volunteer for one month during their school break.


Optional Excursions: You will have quite a few opportunities to see more of Ecuador -- the jungles, the beaches, the volcanoes, even the Galapagos Islands! Trips offered vary depending on program; fall semester students can visit the jungle and the Ruta del Sol. Spring semester students can visit the Ruta del Sol, the volcanoes, and the Galapagos Islands, and year students have the opportunity to go on all of these excursions! Trips are organized through YFU Ecuador and an Ecuadorian travel agency. Prices are subject to change, but YFU Ecuador estimates the following prices for the trips: Jungle ($480), Ruta del Sol ($745). For the year program Volcanoes ($740), Galapagos Islands ($1900).


University Program

High school graduates are invited to spend a gap year in Ecuador! Students on the university program attend courses at ITHI Tecnologico Internacional in Quito, the capital. Students will still live with a local Ecuadorian host family. At school, every student will take the following courses during the first semester: Oral Expression, Human Growth and Development, Basic Math, Office/IT, General Administration, Theory of Tourism, Universal Geography Tourism, Tourist Geography of Ecuador 1, Ecuadorian Arts 1, and Technical Guidance 1. Second semester classes are as follows: Statistics, Financial Math, General Accounting, Anthropology, Tourist Geography of Ecuador 2, Ecuadorian Arts 2, Technical Guidance 2, Universal Art, and Ecuadorian Flora. To learn more about this unique program, contact!

Tuition Includes

-Placement with a carefully selected host family
-Enrollment in a local Ecuadorian high school (excluding summer programs)
-Airport transfers
-Domestic and international travel
-All pre-departure and post arrival orientations
-Pre-program support by trained YFU staff
-Support from a YFU Ecuador Area Representative while on program
-Comprehensive Insurance



Visa Information: Information regarding visas and other immigration processes will be provided upon enrollment. 


Additional Costs: YFU will cover the cost of school registration and tuition fees, but students are responsible for buying textbooks, transportation to and from school (USD $35-60 per month) and other materials such as uniforms (around $200). There is also a visa registration fee (around USD $55) to be paid upon arrival in Ecuador. Program tuition does not include personal spending money or school-related costs such as books and school trips.  


Important Information: Schools in Ecuador are strict in regards to physical appearance. Schools will not accept students that have dreadlocks, piercings, or wear ripped clothing. Male students must be prepared to keep their hair short!


Programs Code Departure Return Full Tuition
Fall Year
University Fall Year

0045 *
1370 *

late August
early October

late June
mid May

Fall Semester
Spring Semester
University Fall Semester
Volunteer Fall Semester
Volunteer Spring Semester

0899 *
1278 *
1277 *

late August
early January
early October
late August
early January

late January
late June
late March
late January
late June


0043 *

late June

early August


* Programs also available to graduates