As soon as my plane touched down and the door opened, I could feel the humid air rush through the cabin. Belize is a tropical jungle, and that was apparent immediately. Though myself and the majority of the group likely came to experience the island paradise side of Belize, we did spend some time on the mainland in Big Falls. This trip did a phenomenal job of juxtaposing the two vastly different and yet complimenting ecosystems this country has to offer.

Over these few weeks, we have experienced humid, dense, vibrant jungle, but also the aesthetic, tropical Caribbean Cayes that shield Belize from the open ocean. On land we explored modern day Mayan Villages San Pedro Columbia and Blue Creek, Archeological sites Lubantun and Nim Li Punit. We walked the jungle in Big Falls to look for all of the beautiful birds, bugs, lizards, and even Tarantulas (don’t worry, they’re not that scary) that shared the property with us. On the islands, where the majority of the trip took place, we snorkeled daily to explore life-filled coral reefs and interact with the hundreds of fish and coral species that inhabit them. This was highlighted by several sea turtles, nurse sharks, and even manatees. Those interested in fishing, like myself, have opportunities to troll the nearby reefs for Barracuda and Snapper, which was some of the most fun I’ve had on the trip.

Though this course kept me busy with journaling, logging species, and my group’s project, this is NOT your traditional classroom, and it truly didn’t feel like schoolwork. We are all here to explore and learn, and the course merely provides guidance on the most efficient way to do so. Lectures at night on the beach were such a unique feature of this class that nothing on campus can offer.

As we approach the end of the trip, I couldn’t have asked for a better group of students to share this experience with. This course has brought me memories and friends that I will keep with me long after I board the plane on my way home. Of course these experiences would not be possible without the knowledgeable local guides who were there to ensure we could experience as much of Belize as possible while we are in their beautiful country for such a short time. Though it feels as though I’ve been here for so long and experienced so much, I am still amazed that the time to leave is almost here.