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Jonathan Collins ’25 is a Journalism and Hispanic Studies double major who participated in the Galapagos Study Abroad program in Summer 2023.

Selfie of Jonathan Collins and three other students on a boat.

How did you decide to study abroad in the Galapagos?

I was browsing the study abroad options during the summer, and the Galapagos has always been on my bucket list, so I decided it would be a great option.

What did a typical day in the Galapagos look like for you?

We had class from 8-12, and then we had free time to go to the beach, walk around town, and hang out with our host families. Every day was really relaxing and enjoyable. On the weekends, we had some amazing excursions to different parts of the island, which were truly beautiful. We also had a couple free days where some of us took the ferry to Santa Cruz, a neighboring island. Although the boat ride was pretty rough (seriously!), the beauty of Santa Cruz and the memories we made were well worth the trip.

What is one experience you had in the Galapagos that is going to stick with you for a while?

Swimming with hammerhead sharks and sea turtles at Kicker Rock was definitely a highlight. It was truly unbelievable and incredible. Also, in Santa Cruz, Las Grietas Park was an amazing experience. It was a huge crack in the earth with a river of the clearest water you could imagine. We saw so many fish and species of coral – it was like nothing else on the planet.

Wide lens selfie of Jonathan Collins in the water wearing goggles and a snorkel, two other snorkelers behind him.

What did you learn about yourself during this trip?

I learned about my appreciation for the natural world and how valuable it is to us. The Galapagos should serve as an example for natural beauty everywhere. I also learned the importance of community on the island, which translated to my own life. When people generally think of the Galapagos, they think of turtles, Darwin, and finches. In reality, there is a vibrant group of residents who bring life and humanity to the island. Learning about the community on Galapagos led me to realize how much I value my own community at home and at UNC.

What new experiences or mindsets are you taking from your trip back to UNC?

I’m coming back with better Spanish, a close group of friends, and lifelong memories that I will always cherish. I have formed a better understanding about parts of the world that are largely overlooked and want to share that with the UNC community.

What advice would you give to other students interested in studying abroad in the Galapagos?

Go for it! It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you can’t miss out on.