My study abroad experience to San Salvador, Bahamas with my Tropical Island Ecology and Geology class was one of the most important experiences that I’ve had in my life and educational career thus far. I was challenged and encouraged as a student and as a growing, learning person in a capricious time in my life.
In regard to my education, this trip provided a hands-on learning experience in which I got to see and learn first-hand the curriculum we covered in class at UTC and apply it to what we were researching in the Bahamas. Through our research and personal interaction, we learned how the multitude of hurricanes that have blown through San Salvador have affected the island geologically and ecologically and the people and their homes and lives. Also conversing with the people, we got to see how the Gerace Research Center, the facility we stayed in and worked at, made such a difference for the lives and people of San Salvador. Essentially, we experienced every way in which our work impacted the island, the people, and scientific research on the subjects we covered. This made all of the in-class time and effort spent worth it, fulfilling our every need. This was also beneficial for students like me who aren’t science majors and don’t have a great skill set in this area. I have a whole new set of expertise in an area I otherwise wouldn’t be exposed to.
Besides the educational and research experience, this class and the San Salvador trip helped me develop as a human being. When you spend a whole semester in class with the same people who you never talk to and then get thrown together in close quarters for a week, you are bound to bond. I learned so much about myself and who I am as an individual, a team member, and friend than I have this whole year of college. Also, being exposed to a culture so rich and so different from our own was incredibly eye opening and the Bahamians are people I will never forget for the rest of my life. This was a life changing experience and I am so grateful to UTC, the study abroad office, and the Honors College for giving me this opportunity.
Elnaz Nourabadi is a Marketing and Entrepreneurship major. She participated in a faculty led trip to the Bahamas during Spring Break, 2018. Elena will be studying abroad in Thailand during the Fall 2018 semester.
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