First Hand Recount of My Week in Ecuador

First Hand Recount of My Week in Ecuador

Learn about the experiences of one El Nomad student. During her time in Ecuador she took part in everything from a Service Learning Project to an Ecuadorian homestay! 

Your Ecuadorian Homestay Survival Guide

Your Ecuadorian Homestay Survival Guide

It can be intimidating living in a family in a foreign country where you don't speak the language. Win over the heart of your homestay mamá with this comprehensive survival guide. 

10 Bilingual Careers that Will Inspire You to Get Practicing

10 Bilingual Careers that Will Inspire You to Get Practicing

Speaking more than one language can open up a world of opportunities, and can make you a valuable asset as an employee. So get out your flashcards, put on some reggaetón, and read on for where those language skills can take you!

1. Refugee Resettlement

Understanding another language and culture makes you a great fit for a career in helping those who need it - refugees from around the world.

2. Medical Interpreter

Have an interest in science and medicine? Hospitals are always looking for bilinguals to help patients and doctors communicate and make essential decisions.

3. Adventure Tour Leader

Lead high schoolers on trips throughout the world, allowing them to explore a new culture, and allowing you to experience the rewards of being a role model and leader!

4. International Journalist

Travel far and wide to the most sought-after locations, to get an on-site and local update about major news stories around the globe.

5. Social Worker

Your compassion for others and knowledge of another language will allow you to flourish as a social worker, bringing hope of a brighter future for many in need.

6. Teaching English as a Second Language

Learning a second language improves your ability to understand English as well, making teaching a fitting career!

7. Fashion Buyer

Your skills in Spanish, French, or German can be very valuable in the fast-paced and glamorous world of fashion.

8. Immigration Lawyer

Help those migrating to the United States feel welcomed in their new home by helping them through a complicated but crucial immigration process.

9. Advertising Translator

Help companies appeal to the public in bilingual areas in the U.S. and abroad by working as a translator for a marketing company.

10. Tour Guide

Show travelers the landscapes, traditions, foods, and lifestyle of a new location while living a wanderluster's dream of traveling as a career!

Upcoming programs you'll love

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Ask an Expert: How to Land that Study Abroad Scholarship

Ask an Expert: How to Land that Study Abroad Scholarship

How can you get ahead in the competitive scholarship field? We’ve got the inside scoop from Megan Lee, director of GoAbroad, on what makes students stand out (positively and negatively) to help your application be memorable for all the right reasons. Here’s how to be amongst the few that are given financing for their abroad experience:

1. Start Early, We Mean Real Early

Collect all the information and materials you need in advance, and make a timeline for applying. Megan recommends getting started a year in advance (never too early to get yourself organized!). Deadlines can sneak up on you quickly if you're unprepared and a hastily written application might as well be one you didn't submit.

2. Research and Resources Count

Check out GoAbroad’s online directory and resources on study, intern, and volunteer abroad scholarships. There are some incredible opportunities out there, and taking the time to do your research will really pay off. Megan recommends students "cast a wide net," and make sure to apply to more scholarships, to increase you chances.

"Invest time in applying and don't get discouraged throughout the process," Megan says. "Sometimes the process takes a long time, and if you haven't heard anything for awhile, keep applying."

3. Think Big in Your Essay

Think big with your application essay. Most applications ask why the specific scholarship or abroad program would benefit your academic goals. In answering, Megan recommends connecting your abroad experience to the bigger picture.

How will this program contribute to your future career goals?

How will it allow you to follow your passions?

How will it change your perspective on the world?

Also, be sure to personalize each essay to each scholarship and ask at least two people to proofread your work. It's obvious when one generic essay is used over and over, so tweaking your work to cater to the specific program will be worth the extra time.

Dreaming of a faraway adventure? Make those dreams a reality with these scholarship tips!

Dreaming of a faraway adventure? Make those dreams a reality with these scholarship tips!

4. Find a Creative edge Within Dry Guidelines

You can make your application really stand out by staying true to yourself.  If you’re an artist, create art. If you love to write,  showcase your talent. As long as you don’t wander too far from the criteria and guidelines for the application, you have the chance to bring an authentic spark to what you’re presenting.

You’ll be surprised how well those processing scholarship applications respond to work that brings something different. Design your scholarship application so that it tells the story of who you are and what makes you different. 

"Students often get bogged down with crafting theories and complex papers, but in reality there are a lot of different ways to learn and showcase why your skills are valuable," Megan says. "By using photos or pictures, or other avenues to showcase your talents, you can get people more excited about your application."

5. Don't Let the Little Stuff Stand in the Way

The biggest mistake students can make in applying is not triple-checking the details. Make sure you meet all the eligibility requirements. Check your deadlines for recommendation letters, essays, and application fees. And, most importantly, make sure you address your application materials to the correct scholarship fund!

Upcoming programs you'll love

Galapagos Ecotour

Spanish Immersion

Machu Picchu ecotour

GIFs That Explain The Time You Were Learning Spanish Abroad

GIFs That Explain The Time You Were Learning Spanish Abroad

1. When You Have No Idea What the Local Just Said to You

After the local has just finished repeating the same phrase 3 times, it's time to take matters into your own hands. This is you mustering up your best all-knowing look. Yeah, he definitely bought it.

2. When YouR Foreign Friend Masters Spanish Small Talk

You study late together and laugh at the frequently occurring language mishaps coming from both of your mouths. Yet suddenly, locals are flashing her knowing looks and smile naturally with her small talk. She's successfully sustaining a conversation. How did she do it?

3. When You're Pretty Sure Your Homestay Family is Talking About You at the Lunch Table 

In the middle of a conversation you've long lost hope in, you're pretty sure you heard your name being pronounced with that all too familiar Spanish twang. Did you? Or wait, was someone just asking you a question? Oh, no! Who just said my name?

3. When Everyone Laughs At Your Spanish Joke 

Nothing describes how good it feels to start bonding with other human beings in another language. It’s one thing to master a conversation with the local market lady but actually making a friend, someone that likes your Spanish personality, is pretty unbeatable. 

3. Exactly How Close You Are To Finding The Word You're Looking For Inside Your Head

You know it. You heard it just the other day. It’s on the tip of your tongue. It’’s...Okay, lost it.

No matter where you go in the world, El Nomad has got your back. With resources on scholarships, how to put study abroad on your resume, and how to keep up with your language skills, we’re here for you every step of the way. As experts in travel and study abroad, we’re more than happy to answer questions, give advice on trip planning, and get you excited for the opportunities ahead. 

Go on, the world awaits.

Upcoming programs you'll love

SPANISH immersion        GALAPAGOS ECOTOUR          MACHU PICCHU ecotour

Seven Unexpected Ways Latin America Celebrates Christmas

Seven Unexpected Ways Latin America Celebrates Christmas

If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in Latin America for Christmas, you’re in for a treat! Throughout the incredibly diverse region, holiday traditions range from ornate Catholic mass services to traditional parades (lasting sometimes over 12 hours!).

Here in Latin America, Christmas is rarely just a single day. You’ll find yourself celebrating for days, weeks, or months in preparation for the big event. Not yet convinced you should grab those last-minute flight deals? Read on to find your favorite unique tradition to take part in this year!

1. MÉXICO – Noche de los Rábanos

The Night of the Radishes is celebrated every December 23rd in Oaxaca, Mexico, and features elaborate displays made entirely from carved radishes (we'll forgive them for not using pumpkins!). The exhibits typically depict the birth of Jesus, but other times they feature monsters, snowmen, or even art in protest.

2. VENEZUELA - Rollerskating to Mass

Every year for Christmas morning in Caracas, the streets are closed off to make way for the masses, on their way to mass. The chosen mode of transit this festive morning? Roller skates! Bringing back the 90's without the pink and lycra. 

In Latin America, Christmas and New Year’s (and sometimes the entire month of December!) are celebrated with fireworks displays!

In Latin America, Christmas and New Year’s (and sometimes the entire month of December!) are celebrated with fireworks displays!

3. ECUADOR - Pase del Niño

Here’s the 12 hour parade we’ve been talking about. In El Nomad’s home city of Cuenca, Christmas Eve is celebrated with a day-long parade featuring everything from classic nativity scenes, to local indigenous culture and dance, to stilt-walkers and acrobats! Anyone can participate (even visitors) as long as you’re willing to start lining up at 5am!

4. MÉXICO - Día de los Reyes

To celebrate the arrival of the Three Kings on January 6th, families in Mexico dine on Rosca de Reyes (Three King’s Cake). Hidden inside the cake are baby Jesus dolls, and if you get stuck with one in your piece, you’ve gotta host a party and make tamales for the WHOLE family come February.

5. ARGENTINA -  Noche de Globos

While many teenagers and young adults set off fireworks throughout the night of Christmas Eve, others send off paper lanterns filled with small candles, to create a scene of peace and tranquility (if possible!) amidst the sounds of wild explosions and even wilder fiestas.

6. COLOMBIA - Black and White Festival

Between Christmas and New Year’s, the city of Pasto celebrates Colombia’s rich diversity of cultures through a unique 3-day festival. Celebrating Indigenous, Spanish, and Afro-Colombian culture and tradition, the carnival’s main event is parade of participants covered head-to-toe in black paint, who are then showered with white talcum powder to represent the mixing of many colours and cultures in the country.

AFP/Getty 525750488

7. HONDURAS - Garifuna Wanaragua Festival

In Honduras, the Wanaragua festival celebrates the New Year through a warrior dance performance with a unique history. The dance celebrates resistance to British colonization of the Garífuna through decadent costumes including masks, ribbon and flower crowns, and shells tied around the dancers’ legs.

A majority-Catholic region, Latin America is big on Christmas, but that doesn’t mean they stick to the traditional when the holidays seasons rolls around. Know any other unique Latin American holiday traditions? Let us know!

And from the staff here at El Nomad Ecuador, Feliz Navidad!

Upcoming programs you'll love

SPANISH immersion         GALAPAGOS ECOTOUR          MACHU PICCHU ecotour

Beyond the Basics: A Study Abroad Pro’s Packing List

Beyond the Basics: A Study Abroad Pro’s Packing List

1. The Maps.Me application for your smartphone

Because you won’t have internet without wifi abroad, the idea of life without GPS in a new city in a different language may be daunting! But with Maps.Me, you can download maps for use out in the city, save your favorite spots, and even get directions, all without internet access.

2. A gift for your host family

To share a bit of who you are and where you come from, show your appreciation for your host family’s role in your abroad experience by bringing them a bit of your home. As a New Englander, I always bring a little maple syrup!

3. A durable journal

With the life-changing elements of traveling abroad, you’ll want a place to record your real-time thoughts and activities, to look back on when you miss your home away from home! Because of the unpredictability of abroad, it’s a good idea to find a durable journal, like Rite in the Rain.


Studying abroad is a time when you are sure to get out of your comfort zone, and sometimes down in the dirt. Helping plant a community garden, painting chairs for a nearby school, or hiking a muddy trail to a cave, we recommend packing clothes you can rip, tear, and stain without sacrificing your cashmere sweater and expensive jeans.


Instead of spending your abroad experience purchasing bottled water everyday, help the environment by using less plastic and refilling a large water bottle, which you can decorate with stickers or even paint to make your own.

6. A guide to the night sky

Whether it be an application for your phone, a book, or a map, you’ll likely be spending some time in places where the starry night sky will be beautiful abroad, and perhaps different from what you see at home!


Compact and lightweight towels, like PackTowl, can absorb four times their weight in water, and dry in a flash! Perfect for your hike to the nearby waterfall, to pack in your backpack for a weekend away, or to throw in your beach bag! 


This may surprise you, but if you're going abroad to South America or Europe, you won't find peanut butter anywhere (and we you do, it's fundamentally a different substance). If you're a PB fanatic, or want a protein filled snack on the go, pack a jar in your suitcase. 


With all the time you’ll spend swimming in the clear ocean waters, cenotes, rivers, or waterfalls, a waterproof camera will capture all of the wet and wild photos from you whitewater rafting trip to your rainforest hikes!


You’re bound to buy gifts, artisan work, or new clothing abroad, so leave a little space to bring these back home!

No matter where you go in the world, El Nomad has got your back. With resources on scholarships, how to put study abroad on your resume, and how to keep up with your language skills, we’re here for you every step of the way. As experts in travel and study abroad, we’re more than happy to answer questions, give advice on trip planning, and get you excited for the opportunities ahead. 

Go on, the world awaits.

Upcoming programs you'll love

SPANISH immersion         GALAPAGOS ECOTOUR          MACHU PICCHU ecotour

5 Ways to Decode the Ecuadorians

5 Ways to Decode the Ecuadorians

As the girl from Michigan, navigating Ecuador and the Andes Mountains had me thinking that Chasquis, the messengers who ran for miles along the mountain chain during Inca times, were the real MVP’s of life.  Once my lungs finally adapted to the higher altitude and I started to settle into the ever-changing life that Ecuador boasts, my ears opened to the language around me.

In most universities in the States, you are taught Spanish grammar, a little about the culture, and how to *attempt* to not sound like a gringa.  However, once you’re in-country, there’s a steep learning curve that no university Spanish class can prepare you for.  Here are five keys to decoding life in Ecuador, that will (hopefully) make the transition a little easier:

1. Chao means see you later, adiós means never again

If you make it to the end of a conversation or meeting without losing your bearings, the final test is to say goodbye to your Ecuadorian comrades.  Based on my experience with my host family and university friends, this can become quite an ordeal.  Good byes involve addressing each member of the clan personally, ‘kissing’ them on the cheek one at a time.  This is usually followed by a ‘chao,’ as the ‘adios’ typically learned in school is seen as a very definitive sort of phrase. Essentially, the word adios implies you will never (or it’s very unlikely) see them again. Very extreme gesture if you’re expecting to see them in less than 12 hours for class.

2. Catch up on some Kichwa

Most people think that the indigenous populations that once dominated the Americas are just that, a chapter in a world history book.  However, when you walk down the streets of the pueblos of Ecuador, you quickly learn that that is not the case.  From the traditional dress to the indigenous slang words that slip into the otherwise castañallo vocabulary, indigenous culture and language is still a dominant and respected part of Ecuadorian culture.

Fun fact: it is compulsory for all schools to teach a class in Kichwa language and culture. Kichwa, over English, was prioritised by the Ecuadorian government and it’s fitting for a country so proud of their roots.

Here’s some of the most common Kichwa words that I heard tossed around during my time in Ecuador:
‘Achachai!’ – It’s cold!

Arrarrai – That’s hot!
Guaguas/Guambras - Kids
Ñaño – Brother (commonly used as ‘best mate’)
Taita - Father

3. Learn the local lingo - and don't be afraid to make mistakes

The first time that I went into a store without my host family to protect me from having to test out my skills, I nearly walked right back out the door, and for reasons you wouldn’t expect.

One of the more common phrases that nearly every Ecuadorian uses is ‘no mas,’ which does not mean ‘no more,’ like one would rookie gringa would assume.  In Ecuador, this phrase is used to say “go ahead” or “don’t hesitate”.  So, if you walk into a store and hear, “siga no mas” or “vea no mas,”, don’t do what I do, which is walk back out with an anxious and confused look on my face.

Other common phrases that you’ll hear tossed around are: ‘Chuta,’ which is the equivalent of ‘crap,’ or ‘goodness gracious’ and ‘Mande,’ which is another way of asking ‘what?,’ ‘repeat that again,’ and the like.

4. Latin American Spanish varies country-to-country!

Where I’m from, it makes more sense to learn more of a ‘Mexican Spanish.’  As I discovered, this consists of a totally different vocabulary set.  From day one, I faced this staggering discovery as a 4-year old girl looked at me like I was insane when I tried to compliment her earrings (Note: not ‘pendiente,’ but ‘arete’).  That being said, if you want to avoid being viewed as an escapee from an asylum, here’s a few words unique to Ecuador that will help you along:
Chompa - Jacket
Medias - Socks
Canguil - Popcorn
Frutilla - Strawberry

5. Play it cool

When you are the only international student in a classroom full of Ecuadorians, it can feel a little terrifying (Cue, my first day).  However, I soon realized that Ecuadorian, while quiet at first, were even nicer than most students back home - and I’m from the Midwest, if that tells you anything.  So, if you want to fit in quickly, here’s some student slang I heard every day:
Chévere - Cool, Sweet, Awesome
Pana - Best Bud
¡Qué bestia! - How crazy/wild!
Broder - Play on the word "brother"

Upcoming programs you'll love

SPANISH immersion         GALAPAGOS ECOTOUR          MACHU PICCHU ecotour

Ask an Expert: How to Get Hired for Studying Abroad

Ask an Expert: How to Get Hired for Studying Abroad

Studying abroad sets you apart. Amongst the thousands of college graduates applying for jobs each spring, you’ve got an advantage.

Taking classes at a foreign university, staying with a host family, traveling solo, and living life in another language? You’ve been developing skills that employers love.

Yet, most students are unsure how to emphasize this experience on their resume, to catch an employer’s eye at your first form of contact. We’ve spoken to career advisor, Alisa Johnson, to get you the inside scoop on how to put your abroad experience into action:

"Studying abroad gives you skills that apply to all different career paths," says Alisa. It's about knowing how and when to use this experience that sets you apart.

1. Know your skill set

Studying abroad gives you valuable “transferable skills,” says Alisa, director of the career center at Colby College. These skills, such as decision-making, effective communication, the ability to adapt to new environments, and cross-cultural competency, are important to highlight.

“Employers are looking for people who can work on global teams,” and having abroad experience, even for one semester, can demonstrate your ability to interact in diverse environments.

2. Put it on your resume

Your resume is your first impression to a potential employer. To make a case for why you’re the best candidate at this preliminary phase, be sure to include your study abroad experience in your education section. Include the university, program title, and semester(s) spent abroad, to begin to emphasize your time abroad right from the start.

3. Separate yourself from the crowd

One of the best ways to set yourself apart in the job search is to demonstrate initiative. Complete an internship abroad? Volunteer? Conduct an individual research project? Putting those projects on your resume can really distinguish your independence, passion, and desire to be involved and engaged beyond the classroom.

4. Prepare to talk it up

The interview stage of a job search is crucial to selling yourself and your experience. Yet, too often the typical interview questions don’t specifically ask about your abroad experience. That’s where you come in!

Alisa recommends students “prepare to incorporate transferable skills in your answers to interview questions.”

Abroad experience can be a great way to answer questions about problem-solving, perseverance, leadership, and working with others.

5. Keep your cool

Alisa’s final advice to students and young professionals on the job search is to “take a deep breath and know that it’s a process” (thanks Alisa!)

The average job search takes about 6-8 months, including crucial steps like editing and refining your résumé, researching employers, interviewing, and finding the position that’s really right for you.

“If at month 2 or 3, you haven’t gotten a job yet, it’s absolutely okay.”

When you know how to sell yourself and your experience, you’re on the path towards finding not only any career, but one that will allow you and your talents to shine.

  10 Ways to Learn a New Language in 10 Minutes a Day

10 Ways to Learn a New Language in 10 Minutes a Day

Learning a new language may seem daunting, but the best way to start a new language or brush up on your skills is simple:

Practice a little every day.

As you practice daily, your brain is actually strengthening itself, making it is easier to absorb new content and enhance your fluency. Here’s some suggestions for how to use your 10 minutes wisely:

1. Get an App

DuoLingo, the winner of iPhone App of the Year, and Memrise, an app frequently used by educators and students, are great ways to learn a new language while engaging your ability to read, write, listen, and speak through mini-activities!

2. Read the news

International newspapers really let you dive into the life and times of places around the world! Here in Ecuador we read El Universo to catch up on all things Latin America and in the rest of the world.

3. Watch a TV show

Netflix and Hulu are filled with telenovelas and international movies, and there’s no shame in binge-watching the popular Vecinos sitcom as well!

4. Listen to a podcast

On a walk or bus ride home, catch up on News in Slow, a podcast in multiple languages, spoken slowly so learners can really soak it all in! For Spanish learners, try listening to Audiria whether you’re just starting out or brushing up on your advanced skills.

5. Go out to eat

Go to a French, Mexican, or Brazilian restaurant and try ordering in the language you’re practicing! Your brain and your taste buds will get to benefit from this one.

Language learning can allow you to engage more in your local community!

Language learning can allow you to engage more in your local community!

6. Run through vocab flashcards

Quizlet is home to hundreds of flashcards sets you can practice with, and has tools to make your own!

7. Write about your day

Just a paragraph or two about your routine and activities can really get your brain active in the language learning process.

8. Listen to music

Spotify has featured playlists from numerous countries and regions throughout the world, so that you can immerse yourself in the local rhythm and flavor of your new language! Bailando and El Perdón are sure to be your new favorites!

9. Go to language tables

If you’re at college or university, most schools have weekly language tables in the dining hall filled with students and professors alike, eager to practice for even just one meal amidst their otherwise hectic schedules! Here are some conversation starters to get you all going!

10. Learn a joke

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