As our time here on South Caicos comes to a close, so much has changed over the last three months. Living in a developing country has both its advantages and its challenges. Coming here I wanted to challenge myself: I wouldn’t describe myself as ‘outdoorsy’ and when given the choice of ‘roughing it’ I usually pick the option with more amenities. But I certainly pushed my boundaries and the border of my comfort zone and I’m so thankful I did.
There are experiences I’ve had here that I wouldn’t have gained anywhere else. I had the chance to watch the sun set beneath the ocean’s edge every night for 95 days. I’ve gone scuba diving close to 30 times, with several of those dives being 100 ft. below the surface, I’ve swum next to a squadron of spotted eagle rays and seen 6-ft. reef sharks, I’ve helped a total of 12 baby hawksbill turtles find their home in the Big Blue even after research mistakenly concluded turtles no longer nested in South, I’ve made friends in the local community whom I will both miss and keep in touch with, and after all those adventures and many more I can say that I successfully achieved my goal in coming here: to immerse myself in another culture and have some absolutely out-of-this-world experiences.
So as the tan lines fade and we return back to our respective homes I can only hope that each student here fully realized the benefits of our study abroad experience because the SFS Center for Marine Resource Studies (or ‘School for Fields’ as the locals like to call it) is a rare and unique place — a community within an already small community where we are here to support and encourage each other. I’m absolutely certain I will return to the States with an appreciation for so much more than I have ever had before. It truly is a life changing experience and I’m so grateful for my time here.