I’m Xavaar, tomorrow I’ll be starting what would be my junior year at the University of Washington by studying in Ecuador’s Galápagos Islands. Yes, my name is very unique, no it doesn’t mean anything or have any cultural significance it was just made up to sound cool. It’s pronounced like Xavier but different. My majors are History of Empires and Colonialism and Biology with a focus in Evolution, Ecology, and Conservation.
In addition to their natural beauty, the Galápagos have been described as a “crucible of evolution” and Charles Darwin’s voyage there sparked the creation of one of the most influential scientific papers of all time, On the Origin of Species. Additionally, countless other seminal studies have been conducted on these islands. Consequently, for biologists the chance to travel there is akin to a pilgrimage. Also, there are iguanas that shoot salty water out their noses like little dragons, and the chance to see those up close is one I couldn’t miss.
Before departing for the Galápagos we will be spending a month studying on the mainland. This will include a trip to Tiputini Biodiversity station far east of the Andes; as a Seattleite it will be neat to see the original Amazon. It will be amazing to see the boundless living diversity of the rainforest, but living things also include strange tropical diseases. I’ll probably be fine, but I think I’ll buy lots of tonic water once I get to Quito just in case.
As I’ve been preparing for my flight the past week, it has been a slow relentless dance of packing, cleaning, more packing, gathering paperwork, and answering the question “How excited are you!?”. Honestly at the moment, I’m not that exited because I’m too busy trying to make sure I have enough underwear and wondering if it was a mistake not to get my luggage insured. I don’t think this is a bad though, being excited can come later. They say the proof is in the pudding, but I say the preparation is what makes the pudding, because without proper preparation you’ll get halfway through making the pudding before realizing you’re missing the parts to make pudding. That’s just disappointing--the complete opposite of excitement.
At least getting cold feet isn't a problem for me. If I’ve decided to do something, even if I don’t remember why, I usually just assume it’s a good idea. On the other hand, not feeling as excited as it seems I should is something I experience quite frequently. Like I said though I don’t necessarily consider this a negative. To anyone who may find themselves in the same situation my point about the pudding is this; the best time to be excited is after the pudding’s been made or in this case after I’ve managed to catch my flight on time and enter Ecuador with both my Visa and all my luggage.
I hope you enjoyed the picture of Ursula -- GO DAWGS!
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<p>I grew up in Eatonville, a small town in Washington just outside the entrance to Mount Ranier National Park, but I moved to Seattle two years ago for college. There's a lot more to do in the city than back home; I've taken dance lessons, played clarinet in a campus band, and this summer I learned how to sail. Exposure to nature here is limited though. I used to go hike in the national park after work, but now I feel like I hardly leave the library! In the Galápagos I plan to spend plenty of time outside both on land and sea.</p>