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Caroline Patterson ’21 is an Environmental Studies and Public Policy double major who participated in the Galapagos Study Abroad program in Summer 2019.

Caroline Patterson stands outside next to some underbrush, a patch of fog obscuring what's behind her.

Why did you choose to study abroad in the Galapagos?

I chose to go abroad to the UNC Science Center in the Galapagos because I am an Environmental Studies major, and it was a great opportunity to take classes I needed for my major in such a cool location.

What was the most interesting cultural experience you had abroad?

Staying with a host family on the island made such a difference to my experience. I was able to speak Spanish and get to know the local people. I still talk to my host family to this day and miss them very much. They are the kindest people and are so giving to all the students that come to study and help their home islands.

How did your summer experience impact the way you view the world?

I really do see the world differently, which is so cliché, but for me it’s true. I learned so many things about small coastal communities and about all the impacts humans have on endangered species. It gives me an interdisciplinary perspective to environmental problem solving that I am so grateful to have.

What piece of advice would you give a fellow student who is considering studying abroad in the Galapagos?

I would advise you to study the land and the species before you go so you know all that you are looking at. Also, just go in with an open mind, don’t bring any pre-formed expectations, and you will be pleasantly surprised with the people and the islands’ beauty.

A group of students stand and sit on a rock "bridge" over the water. What classes did you take while in the Galapagos?

ENEC 324: “Water in Our World”

ENEC 324L: “Water in Our World Lab”

ENEC 325: “Water Resource Management”

Describe a typical day for you in the Galapagos.

I would wake up at my host family’s house, eat breakfast with my host mama (who always had the most delicious food prepared), walk through town to attend class, walk out of class right onto the beach for lunch, a quick dip in the water, sit with the sea lions, then walk home to have dinner with my host family!

If you could only pack 3 things in your suitcase to prepare you for the Galapagos, what would they be?

Waterproof camera, snorkel, and a journal to document all the best memories.