Cody Venier - CFANS Study Abroad Program
Term: Winter 2016 - 2017
Even though my study abroad program was a “short term” program, I feel that I had learned more from the experiences, culture, people, landscapes, interactions, values, and immersion than I have ever learned in a classroom. In Ecuador, I became in love with the mountains that surrounded every city and even had the opportunity to climb a volcano! I was forced to improve my Spanish speaking skills because most of the people there did not speak much English. There were so many new types of food, architecture, music, clothing, vegetation, and ways of life that I had before experienced. At times I felt over stimulated but that was a good thing. We traveled so much to see all of Ecuador and had an awesome tour guide from the Ecuadorian study abroad center CIMAS who was the drummer for a pretty famous band in Ecuador.
Some of the most amazing experiences to me were being able to live in the Galapagos Islands and the Amazon Jungle. The Galapagos was added new to the trip this year and in my opinion was the highlight of the trip. We were near the ocean everyday and got to snorkel with sharks, stingrays, sea turtles, many tropical fish, and very playful sea lions. There was so much wildlife in the Galapagos it was hard to not find a unique animal. There were giant iguanas, flamingos, penguins, and many different species of giant tortoise that were more common than squirrels in Minnesota. These things were everywhere! Another part of the trip that I thought was really cool was living at the jungle lodge. The only way to get to it was a large canoe down a tributary and we lived with minimal electricity and resources. Most of our meals we ate were grown at the lodge and we had a lot of time to just explore. We saw many really cool insects, spiders, a poison dart frog, and some 600+ year old trees. To wrap things up were we tubed down the tributary and laid in hammocks for a good percentage of the day. I would definitely recommend studying abroad to anyone interested and Ecuador was an amazing choice. Studying abroad is not cheap, but neither is college. Getting out and experiencing a new country is 100 times more influential and worthwhile than any lecture you hear in a classroom. Worth every penny.