El Nomad Study Abroad

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Want to make a difference?

Combine the adventure of living in Ecuador with the reward of donating your time and energy to meaningful causes. El Nomad is plugged into an extensive network of social and sustainable projects run by locals, with flexible time commitments to fit your schedule. With your home institution's approval, you may also be eligible to earn academic credit!


El Nomad takes learning beyond the classroom. As a reputable South American provider, we facilitate life-changing experiences through cultural immersion programs that prepare students and professionals from around the world to excel as global citizens.


El Nomad envisions a world where people embrace global citizenship and participate in cultures other than their own. We facilitate the growth of cultural competency through affordable, experiential-learning opportunities that introduce new ways of thinking and living.

Company Description:
Founded in 2007, El Nomad is based in Cuenca, Ecuador, where our staff lives year-round. We are passionate about facilitating cultural understanding and competency through authentic immersion experiences. As an international team of well-traveled professionals, we value intercultural relationships and truly understand what it means to be a global citizen. As a company, we live out our passions by offering affordable, full-immersion experiences in Ecuador including: homestays, Spanish language courses, professional internships, volunteer opportunities, and customized group programs.

Everything from working in the Amazonian Jungle to joining a Mobile Surgery Unit, El Nomad has it all!

El Nomad has a wide range of extensive networks and established relationships in Ecuador and the Cuenca community.  As a result, we offer a variety of sustainable volunteer projects. These projects are available in the following fields of study:

  • Human Rights
  • Women's/Children's Advocacy
  • Health/Medicine
  • Environmental Studies
  • Education
  • Research

If you do not see your area of interest listed here, please contact us!  We are happy to create a customized program to match your interests and skills

We work primarily in and around the city of Cuenca, Ecuador, but also have a limited number of opportunities in other locations in Ecuador.

About Cuenca

Cuenca, whose name stands for “river basin,” is tucked into a majestic valley in the heart of the Andes Mountains at 8,000 feet above sea level. With a population of 500,000, Cuenca is the capital of the Azuay Province and Ecuador’s third largest city, but provides the charm of a small, welcoming town. In 1999, Cuenca was declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site.  In 2010, it was voted one of the top ten cities in the world to visit by Lonely Planet. A clean city of colonial heritage and modern amenities, in Cuenca you’ll find everything from international restaurants and bars, to sports facilities (gym, swimming pool, rock-climbing walls, etc.) and biking/running trails, to shopping malls and yoga studios.  Cuenca is also a short distance from excursions (link to excursions page) like Cajas National Park and the ruins of Ingapirca.  History is alive here: lively street markets, colonial churches, indigenous peoples in traditional dress, and a warm friendly atmosphere make Cuenca both a perfect home away from home and a welcoming place to learn the Spanish Language.


About Ecuador

Boasting the most biodiversity per square kilometer on the planet, Ecuador is much more than its namesake, the equator.  In a few short hours, you can venture from the junlges of the Amazon Basin to the volcanoes of the Andes highlands, and from the tropical coast to the famous Galapagos Islands.  History comes alive in modern UNESCO World Heritage cities, where colonial-style towns, colorful markets, and friendly residents make Ecuador the ideal place for an international experience.

Your home away from home

Homestays provide students with an unequaled experience, immersing them in the local language as well as integrating them into Ecuadorian life.  Living with a local family provides students with a unique window into Ecuadorian customs and culture.

All homes are centrally-located, within walking distance or a short bus ride to universities and city center.  Homestays are also located close to a variety of restaurants, bars, sports facilities (gym, swimming pool, rock-climbing walls, etc.), beautiful parks, and biking/running trails.  Students are provided three meals per day, and will generally eat lunch with their host family.  Eating together at lunch is an important Ecuadorian custom.  Students are provided with a private room and modern amenities, which include:

·       Comfortable bedrooms

·       Western-style bathroom (toilet, shower, bathtub, sink)

·       Fully-equipped kitchen (refrigerator, oven, stove, microwave, etc.)

·       24/7 hot water

·       Washer/dryer

·       120 V electricity (same as U.S.)

·       Wi-fi*

*Available in some homestays.  Free wi-fi is always available nearby at the El Nomad Center.

About our host families

El Nomad has established, long-term relationships with upper-middle class families.  Our host families have a genuine interest in sharing their culture, language, and family life with international students. All of our homestay houses are located in safe neighborhoods and are personally selected by the owners of El Nomad.  By accommodating specific needs, both El Nomad and our host families want incoming students to feel safe, comfortable, and welcome.

Private Accommodation
For faculty and non-traditional students, El Nomad offers accommodations in a small, private apartment as an alternative to a homestay. It is a one-bedroom.

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and start dates are flexible. Students and professionals may stay with us for 1 week all the way up to 6 months, and will generally work 25 - 30 hours per week.  They may also choose to combine their volunteer experiences with Spanish classes at an accredited, local university.