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Study Abroad


Master of Occupational Therapy in Ecuador

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SAU students in Ecuador

Ecuador intersession students visit El Cajas National Park. Photo by Carissa Rabe, 2011 SAU Alum.

This program is now accepting applications for Winter 2014-15.

Course:  MOT 510 Special Topics or MOT 587 Field Experience in Pediatrics (3 credits)
Instructor: Dr. Theresa Schlabach, Associate Professor of Occupational Therapy
Dates:  December 26, 2014 - January 14, 2015
Primary Location: Cuenca, Ecuador
Price:  $4,308

Program Description

For over a decade, St. Ambrose University and CEDEI have offered a successful short-term program designed to provide serious college students, teachers, and other interested adults with an opportunity to study the language and culture of Latin America. The program includes formal classroom instruction, the opportunity to live with and learn from an Ecuadorian family, and numerous field trips to sites of cultural, geographical, and historical interest.

Course Description

This course is intended for occupational therapy students to integrate their academic learning with a hands-on service-learning project. The students will study the differences in culture related to health, illness, and occupation. The occupational therapy students will increase their knowledge and experience working with typically and atypically developing children with a pediatric occupational therapist in a community setting in Ecuador. Students will gain language and interpersonal communication skills by participating in a survival Spanish course, living with a host family, and studying the issues of cultural diversity in Ecuador. The students will also gain experience working with an interpreter, which is a very useful skill to have in clinical practice in the United States.

The Setting: Cuenca, Ecuador

Ecuador lies on the equator along the Pacific coast of South America. It is a country of spectacular geographical and cultural contrasts, tropical coast and beautiful beaches, snow-capped Andean volcanoes, and lush Amazon rain forest. Located high in Ecuador's southern Andes, Cuenca is the third largest city in the country. Nourished by mountain rivers, Cuenca enjoys spring-like temperatures year round.

Because of its tradition of achievement in scholarship and the arts, Cuenca has been called the Athens of the Andes. Today Cuenca is the site of three major universities, several study abroad programs, many museums, and numerous research and cultural organizations.

Cuenca was founded in 1557 on the Inca city of Tomebamba and continues to preserve its Spanish colonial heritage. The many churches dating from the 16th and 17th centuries, the colonial residences, the cobblestone streets, and several nearby artisan villages make Cuenca one of the most charming cities in Ecuador.

With a population of 250,000, the city is large enough to provide health, educational, and recreational services, yet small enough to offer personal hospitality.

Classes and Field Trips

Students attend classes Monday through Friday mornings for 3-4 hours each day. Attendance is strictly required. In most courses, field trips will supplement class time.

In addition to coursework, students are encouraged to participate in cultural and social activities in the community and to take advantage of the extracurricular afternoon events including lectures, videos, and dance classes.

The Program includes visits to special sites including the Inca fortress of Ingapirca, El Cajas National Park, the resort town of Baños de Ambato, the Old City of Quito, La Mitad del Mundo, the weaving and crafts centers of Otavalo, San Antonio de Ibarra, and Calderón.

What is Included
  • Course fees
  • Round-trip airfare from Chicago O'Hare (including exit tax)
  • Housing
  • Meals (except when traveling)
  • Field trips and entrance fees
  • Travel assistance
  • International health insurance

What is not included
  • Transportation to/from Chicago O'Hare
  • Passport
  • Fees for textbooks and materials
  • Meals en route and on field trips
  • Possible TB test upon return to the US (minimum $28)

How to apply

Application deadline - September 9, 2014
Step 1: Complete the online application
Step 2: Fill out a Liability Form. Upload the form into your online application or return it to the Center for International Education (Lower Cosgrove).
Step 3: Submit a $500 deposit to the Center for International Education (Lower Cosgrove). Make checks payable to St. Ambrose University.
Step 4: If your application is approved, complete the next steps for accepted students.
Step 5: Approved students will be asked to fill out additional application paperwork for CEDEI.

Payment deadlines

  • September 9: $500 deposit due
    Turn in your deposit to the Center for International Education (Lower Cosgrove). 
    Deposit checks should be made payable to St. Ambrose University.
  • October 15:  $1,000 commitment fee due
    Turn in your second payment to the Center for International Education (Lower Cosgrove).
    Make checks payable to St. Ambrose University.
  • December 1:  remaining balance due
    Turn in your final payment to the Center for International Education (Lower Cosgrove)
    Make checks payable to St. Ambrose University or pay online with credit card.
    Credit card users - Indicate that the payment is for the SPRING 2015 term.

Payment details

  • The $500 deposit is refundable ONLY if you are not accepted or if the program is canceled.
  • If you are accepted, all payments are non-refundable after each payment deadline.
  • The cost for this program will be added to your Spring semester bill.
  • All payments are deducted from the total program cost.
  • Failure to meet payment deadlines may jeopardize your place in the program.
  • Credit card users will incur additional service fees.
  • The final payment is non-refundable after December 1.