Stepping off the plane in downtown Quito - yes, the airport is in the middle of the city - I knew that I had made the right decision for my first overseas teaching assignment. The feeling was just right, “not too hot; not too cold”. Overall, “not too” seems to fit everything about this fantastic city. Not too much culture shock, not too expensive. Just right.
Quito sits nestled in a valley about 3,000 meters up in the Ecuadorian Andes providing spectacular vistas of the surrounding mountains and the jewel of a city below. As the capital of Ecuador, Quito’s population is a modest 1.5 million and is home to the President, the country’s lawmakers, foreign diplomats and multinational companies. Additionally, tourists from around the world are constant and regular visitors to Quito, giving it a very international feel.
Doing my homework and finding a good job before I arrived helped me to settle in right away. I worked for a fantastic institute; Key Language and they treated me like gold. Our clientele consisted of adult professionals in the private sector, government agencies and international NGO’s. Right away, I was teaching at pharmaceutical companies, oil companies, the Diplomatic Training Academy and even at the United Nations.
Doing your homework is something that will make things much easier for you. Get your job worked out before you come. Some other reputable outfits in Quito include English First, The British Council and Berlitz, as well as others. Many trainers are able to pick up extra work between two or more institutes, along with privates. Accommodation is dependent on your needs, so be willing to stay in a small pension or hostel for a couple of weeks, while you find the right place. There are plenty of apartments available and your co-workers should be able to help you out. I ended up staying in a great place called the “Coco-Banana”, an international hostel with a real family feel; perfect for great conversations with world travelers.
Ecuador uses United States currency, which makes budgeting and shopping very easy. The government keeps food prices under control, so if you cook, you’ll save a lot of money. However, if you like to party, “La Mariscal”, the hot spot of the city is the place to mix with European visitors and the affluent members of Quito’s younger elite class. Nearby, the embassies are always hosting and with the right work connections, you just may find yourself at a French celebration or Italian wine tasting party.
While salaries seem a bit on the low side, you’ll do fine as you save your money. Coming with some cash reserves in your pocket will bode well for you. After you begin working, connections to other schools and private students can be made. Keeping an open mind and a positive outlook impresses the Ecuadorians and can open doors here.
Of course in your free time, you’ll find more things to do than you’ll be able to in the time you’re here. Tourist-trap Mercados and gigantic Cathedrals give way to quiet narrow streets with artisans showing their wares to the local patrons. Tour busses give way to bike rentals or horseback treks in the mountains or river rafting down into the rainforest. Enjoying a cool drink in the Futbol Arena, screaming for the home team or spending time conversing with university students and professors over a café about current events. Quito is a wonderful place to work and live. I wholeheartedly suggest that you come up…to Quito.