I first decided, about a year ago, that I was going to commit to making studying abroad a reality. I’ve been interested in going abroad for much longer but didn’t feel that It was possible financially. I eventually reached a point where I was determined to do everything in my power to make it an option for myself. After what seemed like countless scholarship and grant applications, I was awarded the Gilman scholarship as well as a few other smaller scholarships. My choice of location and program was a complete no-brainer for me. The UA in Belize program caught my attention immediately and seemed almost constructed for my personal international study needs. Marine Biology and geology/oceanography are my primary interests as an environmental science major. I do undergraduate research in an on-campus marine lab but I wanted to find a way to gain some fieldwork experience before finishing my undergrad. A month-long trip of marine research in the Caribbean sounded like the perfect way to fulfill my academic need and personal interests. Packing for this trip has been a bit of a challenge and I can’t decide if I over-packed or under-packed. I decided to only bring a small duffel bag and a backpack. I’ll be carrying my luggage across the sand and in boats so I’ve assumed that packing relatively light is the way to go. I guess I’ll find out the hard way if it was or not. I’m thrilled by the prospect of being in the ocean every day and getting to see the second-largest barrier reef in the world. Current environmental issues threaten my chances of seeing the reefs, as they are now, in the future. I’m not having any last-minute regrets, only a bit of nervousness and tons of excitement. I worry a little about homesickness, but I think I’ll be preoccupied enough to push those feelings away. The only thing that I would’ve done differently in my week’s pre-departure would be packing earlier. I’m the world’s worst procrastinator about certain things and let me tell you, packing for an international trip should NOT be one of those things. I would advise anyone planning their own trip, to pack earlier than you think you should. Don’t be the person hunting for their passport 4 hours before they need to catch their flight. Don’t be me. Overall I’m just beyond excited for everything this trip is sure to offer.