Pre-departure: Planes, Packing, and Privilege

Jennifer Bass
August 8, 2019

Studying abroad has always been a dream for me: a chance to dive into a new community, experience a different lifestyle, build relationships, and develop a more inclusive perspective. But, the opportunity to study abroad in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands—a place that has inspired my passion for the environment—transformed this dream into a complete fairytale. When I first applied to the program I could not believe that the possibility of visiting and living in such a beautiful environment existed. Yet, as I prepare to leave home my mind has been filled with excitement, a whirlwind of packing, and a pool of thoughts.

As I sort through piles of clothes, books, and music to pack, I cannot help but think about the beautiful places, people, and adventures to come. I look forward to meeting my host family, trying new things, and absorbing every second of the trip. But, I also recognize the vast amount of privilege that is allowing me to embark on this new adventure.

As a cis-gender, educated, affluent, able-bodied, white United States citizen, studying abroad is fairly accessible in my reality. These characteristics have placed very few barriers in my journey to study abroad while also systemically contributing to the barriers that others face. Additionally, as an environmental advocate, I cannot help but acknowledge my contribution to the global climate crisis as I prepare to step on to the first of a series of three flights that will greatly increase my carbon footprint. 

At times, these thoughts have led me to wonder if studying abroad is the best decision. While it has always been a dream, it is hard to decide how the decision balances with all of my other goals and thoughts. Nevertheless, I hope that recognizing the privilege that has helped make this new chapter of my life possible will be the first step in deepening my perspective. Along with these doubts, my mind is also filled with hopes of improving my Spanish, befriending sea turtles, and traveling to the Amazon. All in all, I am incredibly eager to dive into this new adventure and learn as much as possible. While saying goodbye to family, friends, and the familiar is always difficult, I trust that this new chapter will bring new memories and friends to last a lifetime, and I could not be more excited!

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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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