Beginning a New Chapter

Jennifer Bass
October 15, 2019

Books are filled with layers, plot twists, and chapters that have readers eagerly turning pages while also reminiscing the delicately crafted adventures of previous chapters. Every page of a book is a new day, a new thought, and a new idea that we carry with us as words continue to fly off the page. As such, when it was time to say goodbye to the beautiful rolling hills of Cumbaya and to begin a new chapter on the sandy shores of San Cristóbal, I was filled with a sense of excitement and retrospection. With one final page, I hugged goodbye to my host mom and headed to the airport ready to begin the next chapter.

I stepped off the plane in San Cristóbal completely unaware of what the next chapter of studying abroad would include. But, as we made our way to the university, I felt more and more confident that this chapter would be filled with sunshine, sea lions, and wonderful people.

The university in the Galapagos is a small building with five classrooms, a few offices, a computer lab, and a patio that overlooks Playa Mann. Being from the desert, I was incredibly excited to experience this new chapter by the beach, but I was also incredibly surprised to find some familiar cactus that provided a sense of home and comfort for the new beginning.

One of the first things I learned in this chapter is that life on a small island is a bit like life in the wizarding world of Harry Potter - everyone knows everyone. (Although, Hogwarts was very specific in addressing Harry´s letter to “the cupboard under the stairs” and addresses in San Cristobal are simply the name of your family or general neighborhood!) Like Hogwarts, San Cristobal has hidden places that you only find when your story takes a bit of a turn - and a staircase suddenly begins to move.

This module, our Climate Change class had surprising trips that popped out of nowhere just like the Room of Requirement. One such trip led our class to Española island, which is home to boobies (a seabird native to subtropical and tropical regions of the eastern Pacific Ocean), Albatross (large seabirds related to the procellariids), lava lizards, and colorful marine iguanas. While it was a bit of a rocky boat ride to the island, we saw dolphins and whales on our way, and then enjoyed a beautiful hike before jumping in the water to go snorkeling. The water right now is definitely a little chilly, but after a minute the clear water and amazing wildlife make thoughts of being cold disappear! We also had the opportunity to go to Kicker Rock and Isla Lobos on class trips, which were beyond amazing, each with unique characteristics, beaches, and wildlife.

So, while I may not study at Hogwarts, studying in the Galapagos is absolutely magical. This new chapter has been unbelievable and while no one can ever know what the next pages will bring, I know that I have loved getting to know the community in San Cristóbal, packing a swimsuit for school every day, and listening to sea lions while studying.

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Jennifer Bass

<p>I am a music and environmental studies: policy, culture, society student at Pacific University. In my spare time I enjoy playing violin, hiking, tap dancing, reading, and exploring this wonderful planet as much as possible! I am also passionate about sustainability, social justice, traveling, and old movies or I Love Lucy reruns.</p>

Home University:
Pacific University
Tempe, AZ
Environmental Studies
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