I remember back in early October I had to submit a $500 deposit to secure my place in this amazing program. I knew that I would not be able to go unless I got this scholarship from SEBS, along with the scholarship from the Rutgers Center for Global Education. Because the Galapagos is so strict about who gets in and out, and when, our deposit was due especially early. I took a big risk putting that deposit down, since I knew I would lose the $500 and not be able to attend the trip if I didn’t receive the scholarships. I am SO glad that I had faith in myself and took this risk. I received both the scholarships I needed, and had the chance to embark on the adventure of a lifetime.
I learned that taking risks is good, and so is facing your fears. Everyone on my trip, myself included, had to face their fears this trip. Whether it was fear of spiders, sharks, or fireworks, we all overcame something that frightened us, and it made us stronger. I was so glad to have met my group of fellow adventurers. We supported each other, and looked out for each other as we navigated the city streets, the jungle, and the deep waters. This trip would not have been the same without them.
Featured Left to Right: Brandon Pollard, Eric Ostrander, Gabrielle Muntean, Guide Andris, Lauren Lairson, Collin McManus, Nandini Mishra, Emily McCue, Isis Zhang
This trip also made me certain that I have chosen the right major. Holding spiders, hiking up steep muddy terrain, inspecting insects, and catching frogs and bats certainly does not sound like a good time to everyone. However, I couldn’t get enough of it. I had so much fun identifying different plant and animal species with our guides, and using my binoculars to try to catch a glimpse of different tropical birds. I have learned so much about biology and sustainability!
Although this study abroad program focuses on biology, I was glad that our professor included many cultural expeditions as well. It’s important to explore all aspects of a place– and to take your blinders off once in a while. I loved that we learned about Ecuadorian rituals, traditions, and daily life. (L to R: Emily McCue, Lauren Lairson)
I have always wanted to study abroad, but I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to graduate on time if I took a whole semester abroad due to the requirements of my major. I found that this two week winter program was the perfect fit for me. Although it was short, it was absolutely jam-packed with adventures, and I really feel that my already-high expectations were exceeded ten fold.
My trip to Ecuador is something that I will remember fondly forever. It has sparked new passions in me– for example I totally want to get my scuba diving license after absolutely falling in love with snorkeling– and it has also solidified passions I have always had. I want to keep exploring the world. I love to travel because whenever you return home, you are different from when you left. As the famous quote goes, “Travel is the only thing you buy which makes you richer”. Perhaps one day I will return to Ecuador, but until then, I’ll always have these memories.