Merriam-Webster defines knowledge as, “the fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association.” Upon reading this, my mind slowed when it tumbled over the word experience. As a student, my responsibility is to expand my intellect in preparation for my academic and professional future. For many, this is accomplished by attending lecture, performing experiments in the laboratory, and studying in the library. For me, this is accomplished by expanding boundaries intellectually and geographically. To me, my travel abroad experience was an opportunity for acquisition of intelligence that exceeds borders.
I traveled to San Salvador, Bahamas in March of 2018. The trip was associated with a course of Tropical Ecology and Geology. Because the course focused on species unique to subtropical climates, I expected to spend most of my time in a lab or with my nose in a plant identification textbook. The trip exceeded my expectations. The trip provided me an opportunity to experience not only wildlife of the island of San Salvador but also the opportunity to experience the culture. Studying abroad is an excellent opportunity to indulge in the experience of somewhere you have never been before.
Subsequently, the island possessed many geological features that I had never even experienced in pictures. The Lucayan Trail included on the Gerace Research Center included aragonite “moonrock” paths. Inland ponds covered most of the island and provided an extremely beautiful place of study. I also viewed many specimen while snorkeling on the crystal blue beach of the island. I observed a Lionfish–an invasive and highly poisonous fish of the island–on one of our many snorkeling adventures! The island offered unique opportunities that I, as a Biology student, was more than happy to take advantage of.
Moreover, San Salvador offered the experience to explore the island culture. Going into the trip, I had always heard the phrase “island time” but I had never believed in the phenomenon. There were many occurrences that the locals proved me wrong! The laid back atmosphere surrounded us. Another thing that surprised me, was the overall generosity of the locals. Upon arrival to Nassau, the lady that drove us to the hotel gave our group homemade banana bread! The trip provided an excellent opportunity to expose myself to the culture of others.
In conclusion, knowledge is found through experience. Not only did I gain knowledge on professional skills and research techniques, but also on global appreciation. My trip abroad helped me to grow as an individual and set me apart from others in my field. Traveling abroad is an amazing opportunity that allows students like myself to diversify their education and retain skills that are not acquainted with the average classroom. For me, this research trip provided a new outcome for my future. It helped prepare me for future excellence by exceeding borders.
Jesse Moore is working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Biology. She participated in a faculty led trip to the Bahamas during Spring Break, 2018. Jesse had the following to say about her time in the Bahamas, “Traveling abroad is an amazing opportunity that allows students like myself to diversify their education and retain skills that are not acquainted with the average classroom. Traveling abroad has separated me from the crowd of my field and will provide me with an edge both academically and professionally. Not only did the trip greaten my credibility as a hard-working student, but it has also provided me a sense of global appreciation that I would not had acquired if I had idly stayed in Chattanooga to study.”