Cuenca, Ecuador Project Center (IQP)
Cuenca, Ecuador is a modern city in the southern Andean highlands It is located in a valley at approximate 8,400’ above sea level. Cuenca is a UNESCO World Heritage Trust site that is exemplified by the historical central district, has good public transportation and is very walkable. The climate in Cuenca is moderate, though it is said that all four seasons can be felt in a single day! Days are generally warm and nights are cool enough that sweaters or jackets are needed. A heavier jacket may be needed for hiking in the mountains,. Since Cuenca is just a couple of hundred miles from the equator, there is only a 20 minute difference in daylight between the longest and shortest days of the year.
Students will live in apartment style accommodations with two or three students per suite. Each apartment will have a kitchen with an area for cooking and food storage. The apartment building has an elevator and wireless internet access. Accommodation type and location are subject to change without notice and will be confirmed the term prior to departure.
Ecuadorian cuisine is diverse, varying with altitude, and associated agricultural conditions. Pork, chicken, beef, and cuy (guinea pig) are popular in the mountainous regions, and are served with a variety of carbohydrate-rich foods, especially rice, corn, and potatoes. The food is somewhat different in the southern mountainous areas, featuring typical Loja food such as repe, a soup prepared with green bananas; cecina, roasted pork; and miel con quesillo or "cuajada", as dessert. In the rainforest, a dietary staple is the yucca/cassava. Make sure to take any dietary restrictions or allergies (nuts in particular) into account as you consider this site and inform your advisor and IGSD of any health concerns well in advance of your participation in this program.
Students must arrive on or before the posted start date and stay through the posted end date of the program. Dates will be posted at the top of this page. WPI housing will be available from the start date to the end date. If students plan to arrange any personal travel before or after the program, they will be responsible for arranging and paying for their own housing.
Past Cuenca students have:
- Developed public relations materials for the beautiful and fascinating Museo de las Conceptas, a museum in downtown Cuenca
- Worked with the rural community of Shaglli to develop resources that support community-based, sustainable tourism
- Promoted walking as a form of transport by designing and piloting ‘walking school buses’ with the Cuenca department of transportation and several primary schools
- Contributed to the ‘living sustainability laboratory’ in the rural village of San Rafael, by developing sustainable construction designs for local buildings
- Conducted research on how US migrants are impacting Cuencan society and generated program ideas to improve integration
Students will be billed the following fees by WPI for the WPI semester they are away. These will be billed to you on the regular WPI billing cycle (i.e. Fall semester, and Spring semester).
- WPI Tuition and Fees
- WPI Housing Fee (if applicable)
- WPI Meal Plan (if applicable, reduced for term away)
- Global Projects Program Housing and Program Fee (for applicable programs)
In addition to this, students should budget for the following while away:
- Local transportation
- Airfare (if applicable)
- Tourist activities and incidentals
- Project related incidentals
A breakdown of all estimated expenses for Cuenca can be found here: Cuenca Estimated Expenses
WPI is committed to the health, safety, and security of all students who participate in our programs. While off-campus study can present unique challenges and inherent risks, we believe that careful research and diligent planning are keys to a safe and rewarding project experience. WPI utilizes several key resources to understand the risks of travel in the countries where we operate, and we urge you to consult these same resources as you research your intended destination. You can also discuss questions and concerns about your travel plans with on-campus resources such as the IGSD, the Student Health Center, the Office of Disability Services, and the Student Development and Counseling Center. It very important that you consider your own health requirements as you review what sites are most interesting to you, and that you carefully review the published information concerning health, safety, and security at the resources linked below prior to applying to a particular site. Make sure to visit the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website for the most up to date health and vaccine information, and review all information in relation to your own health and any medical conditions you may have.
Country-specific travel health information from the Centers for Disease Control
Country-specific page from the U.S. Department of State
Student travel website from the Bureau of Consular Affairs, U.S. Department of State