Coming into college I was told that before I graduated I needed to experience a study abroad trip. I thought to myself that this experience must be great since everyone who has already experienced it is raving about it. So come junior year I decided to attend an information session to learn more about the process of study abroad and how it worked. However after looking at the list of places to visit, none of them truly struck out to me as some place I would love to be and that I would enjoy. It was not until one day when I got an email from my adviser saying “Galapagos Islands, Spring Break 2014” and my face lit up.
Once I turned in my application and got accepted into the program, I had to register for the Natural Resources 491 that coincided with going on the trip. During the class we learned about the different wildlife and culture that we were going to see and the vast ecosystems, which would help prepare us for the trip. We also read Charles Darwin’s The Voyage of the Beagle which talked about the endemic species Darwin discovered during his voyage of the Galapagos Islands.
The day of the trip finally arrived and we landed on the mainland of Ecuador before we ventured to the islands. The city we visited was Guayaquil, which was amazing and gave us students the chance to experience the city life, but we were all ready to travel to the islands. In total we visited five islands that consist of the Galapagos, and each one had its own feel and all had a huge selection of native wildlife species that resided there. Seeing all these species was a good connection because we were able to see the animals we learned about in class in their own habitat and it was incredible. The animals were not shy of the cameras and I honestly think they enjoyed the attention because they would give us different angles to shoot them. Along with the animals the beaches and volcanoes were beautiful. I was able to experience my first black sand beach which were so cool to me because I never seen them in person. We also hiked an active volcano while we were on the trip and it was stunning to see how scenic something was that was so powerful.
My favorite animals were both the sea lions and the blue footed boobie. The sea lions were the most adorable creature, and they were not afraid of people and get really close to you. I also enjoyed the blue footed boobie because it was crazy to see a bird with blue feet, and the bluer his feet were the lonelier he was. Although it is a sad thought it’s exciting to see how the littlest things are connected.
While we were on the trip as part of the class we had to doa group project. For our project there were different groups we could choose whether it be doing a daily blog, a field guide, or a video commentating on the different things we saw. I decided to be in the video group and we had to make videos and document the different wildlife we saw and combine all our videos together for the class. Once we combined the videos we created a website for prospective study abroad students to view filled with pictures and videos so they could see what activities and landmarks we saw on our trip.
This trip applies to my future careerplans in Environmental Science because we were able to study different animals and see them in their habitat. Also, the locals of the Galapagos Islands were very economically and environmentally friendly. The majority of food they used was locally grown products. There were no harmful chemicals emitted into the soil or air in order to better the products, but rather they were all natural. People of the islands understand the importance of using their own organic resources, and I plan to implement and educate their way of life here in the U.S. in my future careers.
I honestly enjoyed my study abroad trip. It allowed me to disconnect from electricity and experience the beautiful things that surround us. My trip to the Galápagos was absolutely incredible and I would not trade the opportunity to go for anything, because the experience was one that I will never forget.