Hang In There!
You're Almost Ready to Go

Enrollments Steps and Preparing for Your Trip:

Congratulations on your acceptance to the Tropical Conservation Semester in Ecuador!  We are excited to have you join this unique learning adventure, and can’t wait to meet you in Quito.

We must receive your enrollment form by Friday, October 27 or your spot may be awarded to an applicant on the waiting list.  The form asks you for your emergency contact and medical information.  The other materials on the list below may be submitted after the enrollment deadline, but for some (e.g., obtaining a passport) you may need to get started right away.  Please read the following list of enrollment steps carefully.

  1. Fill out the online Enrollment Form by the enrollment deadline.  Please note that you cannot save this form, so make sure you have all information on hand before starting.
  2. If you don’t yet have one, apply for a passport immediately and email a scanned copy of the photo page to Ceiba (US passport info).
  3. Read the TCS Information Packet and FAQ about traveling to Ecuador.  The packet contains details about where we travel, what to pack, and other helpful information.
  4. Sign and return the TCS Liability Release Form and Code of Conduct, by emailing a digital copy to courses@ceiba.org or mailing a paper copy with your original signature to Ceiba’s office in Madison.
  5. Purchase your plane ticket, and submit your travel itinerary through the Travel & Passport tab on your MyStudyAbroad page (log-in link can be found on the UW Study Abroad page).  You should plan to arrive in Quito on January 9, and depart on or after May 16.
  6. Obtain a Yellow Fever and Covid-19 vaccination (see details below), and email color scans of your vaccine certificates to Ceiba.
  7. Take an online Spanish placement exam (instructions will be emailed to you).
  8. Make sure you have all materials on the Required Gear list. See the TCS Packet for lists of what to bring!
  9. Collect your visa documents, and bring them to Ecuador; request a 180-day tourist visa upon entry, using the documents you will receive.
  10. Attend the pre-departure orientation on the UW-Madison campus (time and room to be assigned).  Non-UW students may attend remotely.
  11. Submit the online registration form for USFQ.  A link to the form will be emailed to you.  This is essential for you to be a registered student in Ecuador, obtain your visa papers, and be matched with a host family.
  12. Pay your program tuition.  The University of Wisconsin or your home institution will bill you for tuition and administrative fees.


PassportYou must have a valid passport to travel to Ecuador, and it must be valid for at least 6 months beyond your travel dates (i.e., your return flight to the USA). If you do not have a passport, apply for one immediately. It can take up to 6 weeks to obtain a passport, and you cannot apply for a visa until you have one. Passport applications can be completed at most large US Post Offices or State Department offices.  For more information visit the U.S. State Department passport website. As soon as you receive your passport, please upload a color scan of it (as jpeg or pdf) to the UW IAP website if you did not already include one when you applied.

TCS Program Info Packet & Frequently Asked Questions

TCS Packet 2020 thumbnailYou must read the TCS Program Information Packet prior to traveling to Ecuador. The packet contains important information on the sites we visit, what to bring, course content and activities, required textbooks, and travel details. Pay careful attention to the textbook and packing lists, many of these items are absolutely necessary during the program and can be difficult or impossible to obtain in Ecuador.

Please consult the Frequently Asked Questions for the Tropical Conservation Semester.  Included are answers to common inquiries about preparation, arrival and living in Ecuador, health and safety, contacting home, computers, money, cell phones, diet, and much more. For details about the homestays, see USFQ Homestay FAQ and to learn about the requirements that the family must meet you can see their Homestay Requirements document.

Of course, we are here to help you should you need us! Feel free to contact Ceiba at any time.

Liability Release Form and Code of Conduct

Download the TCS liability release form and the code of conduct, then email the signed forms to courses@ceiba.org, or print and send by postal mail with your original signature to Ceiba’s office in Madison:

Ceiba Foundation for Tropical Conservation
301 S. Bedford Street, Suite 7A
Madison, WI 53703

Travel Itinerary

Plane IconWe recommend you purchase your ticket to Ecuador early to get the best available fare on the recommended arrival date.  Your acceptance and enrollment letter contains details about the recommended arrival and departure dates.

Many flights arrive late at night, or early the following morning (e.g., 2:00 am!) — don’t worry, you will be picked up at the airport as long as you arrive on the recommended date or early the following morning. As soon as you purchase your ticket, please submit your travel itinerary to UW’s International Academic Programs site.  Since we use this information to schedule your airport pickup, you must notify Ceiba of any changes to this itinerary prior to your departure.  We also recommend you communicate with your host family about your travel arrangements, to make sure they will be able to meet you; you will receive contact information for your host family a few weeks after the enrollment deadline.  Please see the FAQ sheet for more details on arriving in Ecuador.

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow Vaccination BookletYou must obtain a valid yellow fever vaccination to travel to the Tiputini Biodiversity Station in the Amazon rainforest.  You will be asked to present proof of vaccination, typically in the form of a standard “Yellow Book” immunization record, which you should ask your physician to complete when you are vaccinated.  Please note you must sign your vaccination booklet.  The vaccination is a simple shot that can be obtained from most health clinics, personal physicians or travel clinics; it is valid 10 days after being administered.  Although yellow fever is not a concern at the Tiputini station, proof of vaccination is an inflexible requirement, and no exceptions will be made.

For additional information on travelers’ health, vaccinations, and preventative medications, please consult the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), your university health or travel clinic, or your personal physician.

Visa Information

Ecuador entry stamp (sample)All students will need a visa for the length of the program, nearly five months.  You will receive several documents from our university partner in Ecuador, the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ). With these documents, you will request a 180-day Tourist Visa at the airport upon your arrival in Ecuador.  It is up to the discretion of Immigration whether they will grant you 180 days, or simply give you a 90-day visa like most tourists.  For those who receive a 90-day visa, there’s no problem (tranquilo!), USFQ will assist you in extending the visa at the Ministerio del Interior to cover your entire stay.

Program Tuition

If you are applying through the University of Wisconsin’s Office of International Programs, you will receive a bill from the UW Bursar for the program tuition plus administrative fees; if you are not a UW student you may receive this bill directly from your home institution.

U.S. and Canadian participants should contact the UW study abroad office with any questions on tuition payment. Participants from outside the U.S. and Canada should contact Ceiba for tuition payment instructions.