A study abroad program that’s only three weeks long seems very short. It doesn’t seem like you would get a lot out of it. However, my experience in Belize learning about reef systems and conservation management truly taught me a lot. I also learned a lot about myself.
Field experiences truly helped me see how what I learn in the classroom can apply in real life. My goal was to learn about regional and environmental planning. In my studies, I have mainly focused on policy. My experience in Belize showed me how ideas are implemented and how people have taken action to promote environmental protection and sustainability in their communities, farms, and waters. It showed me first-hand the importance of how people interact with their environment.
I also learned a lot about how I handle group settings, how I learn, and how I spend my time. Because wi-fi was limited, I realized that I didn’t need a lot of the social media I followed. When I got back home, I even deleted some of them. Being with the same people for several weeks in a small island also challenged my comfort zone as an introvert. I loved the work environment that we were in. I didn’t feel stressed about school work, but I learned a lot. I was excited to get my work done. It definitely helped that I was working on things while lounging around on a tropical island.
Overall, I didn’t think that a short summer term would be long enough to have a profound experience abroad, but I definitely changed a lot during that time.