PC students abroad: Ecuador and Galapagos

Blake Roberts, Staff Writer

Presbyterian College offers a wide selection of locations for students hoping to travel abroad. Perhaps some of the more exotic locations are Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, the inspiration for Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. It is there that senior Gabby Lewis is currently studying evolution and ecology.

Gabby studies at the Universidad San Francisico de Quito in Quito, Ecuador, and its satellite campus on San Cristobal Island, which is part of the Galapagos archipelago. USFQ is the first liberal arts university in the Andean region, and is the only institute in the world to have a campus in the Galapagos Islands. In between classes, Gabby has been able to enjoy the local cultures and sites.gabby lewis in ecuador

“During a week of island hopping for vacation, we snorkeled in wide-open water with 20 manta rays. In this same day, I also snorkeled through lava tunnels with sharks, sea turtles, sea horses, and penguins,” she said.

But it has not simply been a holiday for Gabby. She is taking a rigorous course load of five classes focusing on ecological and evolutionary studies. “They are each three weeks with a lot of observational learning in the field, which I consider to be the most valuable part of these classes,” she said.

Additionally, given that most people in Ecuador cannot speak English, Gabby has had to adapt in order to communicate. “One challenge I faced was going right into conversational Spanish with my host family in Quito,” she said.

But this is a hurdle that Gabby cleared. “It is very encouraging to see how much I have progressed with my Spanish, from learning from my host family in Quito and now with my host family in the Galapagos,” she added.

Despite the language barrier, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands have proven to be perfect for Gabby. “Whether it’s the species that you can only see here or the unimaginably wide range of climates you can see at the equator, Ecuador has everything to offer,” she said.

Would Gabby recommend her fellow PC students travel abroad as well? “Absolutely,” she said. “Find the program that best fits you and go!”

If you have any questions about the semester program to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, feel free to email Gabby at [email protected].