- If I don't know any Spanish,and may I still participate in the program?
We recommend participants have at least three years of high school or one year of college Spanish. A few students in the past have had less Spanish, but even with an immersion method such as ours, it's difficult to attain fluency without any prior knowledge of Spanish. Participants with little-to-no background in Spanish usually need to be at least 3-6 months in a family stay to attain a very basic level fluency. Please give us a call or email us to make sure we can meet your expectations. If your school doesn't offer basic Spanish classes, you may check local community colleges, universities, or private tutotring. There are also online resources, one of which is InterLangua. They allow you to speak one-on-one with a college educated, experienced tutor in Central America, and have specialized medical spanish tutoring through the web.
- How much may I expect my Spanish proficiency to increase?
We usually see a dramatic improvement in the participants' language skills. The improvement depends on whether the participant "speaks" during the rotation or if the student is more passive about learning. During the summer months, when there are many students in the program, it's sometimes difficult to abstain from speaking English with your peers. Again, the best way to learn a foreign language is through conversation, so we recommend that you practice your Spanish with as many people as possible.
- How many students usually participate each month, and what are the busiest months?
For the months of June and July, we have historically capped enrollement at 20-22 participants. During the rest of the year, there tend to be 1-4 participants on average. December and January tend to be the least busy months.
- In what year of their training have students participated in the past?
In the summer, most of the students are second years. Fourth year students and residents tend to come in the other months.
- What is the weather like in Riobamba?
Riobamba is cool. Lows in the 30's to highs in the 70's.
- What should I bring?
We've included a checklist to help you decide what to bring.
CLICK HERE to go to checklist.
- When is the best time to go to Ecuador?
Rainy season starts in January and ends in April. In Riobamba the weather is temperate.
- Should we bring cash, credit cards, traveler checks?
Ecuador uses the American dollar. It's easy to use your credit card, ATM machine, or get cash from the bank using your credit card. Past participants have had a hard time findings places that take traveler checks, so they aren't recommended.
NOTE: The ATM machine will charge a fee. And of course, always be careful with money. Established and formal merchants also take debit cards. Use common sense when getting cash, for instance never at night, always under well-lit places and trafficked places.
- Is this program only for medical professionals?
We would like to serve all students and professionals in any health related field.
- Would you be able to do paper work such as completing elective / evaluation forms for my school / university?
Dr. Jorge Duchicela would be happy to complete academic forms required by your institution.
- I arrive in Quito during the evening. Where do you recommend we stay?
We recommend you to look for a hotel nearby the airport: (Some past participant have chosen a hotel less expensive downtown Quito but the taxi will cost at least 30 dollars to get there. For that reason we recommend you not to stay downtown Quito.)
In order to contain our transportation costs and bring more efficient and pleasurable travel from Quito to Riobamba we have established regular weekly frequencies from Quito to Riobamba as follows:
1)Pick up every Sunday beginning at 9:00 am at any of the fine Tababela hotels, near Quito International Airport. 2)Book your trip so as to arrive Saturday day or evening and reserve your stay at any of the Quito airports see recommended and participant reviewed hotels. 3)Stay overnight at that hotel on that Saturday. 4)You will arrive Riobamba during daylight , giving you time to visit with Pablo, and your host family. 5)Orientation and first class on Monday!.
- May we bring family, ie spouse, children, fiance?
Yes, you may. Make sure you let us know well ahead of your arrival date so we can quote you a fee and make arrangements for them.
- Will I have access to places where I may make international calls, use the Internet?
To make local calls, we recommend getting a cell phone. They are relatively cheap and good for quick text messaging. There are many booths around Riobamba that you can use to make international calls - they are about 18 - 25 cents per minute to the US. There are a couple of places in Riobamba that let you make calls over the Internet (VOIP). These are usually cheaper. You won't have trouble finding Internet access in Riobamba. There are many Internet cafes across the city. Host families may or may not have Internet access.
- What should I bring to wear for clinic and hospital work?
Bring a white coat, one set of scrubs, 2-3 sets of casual business attire and closed toed shoes for rounds. Capri pants are not recommended for rounds in the hospital.
- Do you provide a reference from past participants?
We can provide many references from past participants on request. Please email Dr. Jorge Duchicela for contact information.
- I can get a taxi from Quito to Riobamba for $70 and a bus for $4. Why does transportation through Cachamsi cost more than this?
Please see the Transportation section for a more complete explanation, but it comes down to safety of drivers and students, and flexibility of availability. We know our drivers. We tell them not to pass on curves... It's the Andes. We encourage students to tell us if they think our drivers are being safe, so we can make them better.
- Do I need a visa to participate?
No. Only a passport is needed. However, if you wish to stay more than 3 months, you must request an extension from the Ecuadorian government. Participants have stayed up to 6 months in the past without any issues.
- Are computers/internet available to use?
Yes. You do have access to computers and internet in our offices. We also have some English medical books in our Riobamba offices.
- Is it okay to change my arrival date? Yes. Just make sure you let Pablo know in advance. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- What information is available about Zika Virus?
Please visit: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/wr/mm6507e1er.htm?s_cid=mm6507e1.htm_w#F1_down
Click here for more information about Zika: