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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 Monday, November 7 or your spot may be awarded to an applicant on the waiting list. The form asks you for your emergency contact and medical information, and your preferences for host families in Quito and the Galapagos. 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.
You 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.
You 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.
Please download and print the program liability release form, then mail the signed original form to Ceiba’s office in Madison:
Ceiba Foundation for Tropical Conservation
301 S. Bedford Street, Suite 7A
Madison, WI 53703
We 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.
Ceiba and the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (our partner institution in Ecuador) require all participants in our study abroad programs to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 prior to the start of the program. We cannot in good conscience enable our students to carry coronavirus to host countries, where it would pose an additional burden on limited medical resources and risk exposure of isolated indigenous groups. For more information on the Universidad San Francisco de Quito’s Covid-19 policies see their Campus Protocols.
You 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.
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). If you are a UW student, we will notify you when these documents are available for pickup; if you are a non-UW students, we will mail them to you. 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. The cost of the visa extension, at present, is $120 and so please budget your cash accordingly (credit cards not accepted). Please be aware that you cannot attend this program without obtaining a visa, and Ceiba is not responsible for the consequences, financial or otherwise, if you do not secure a proper visa.
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.