For my STEP signature project, I traveled to Queensland Australia for 4 weeks. My program was titled: Sustaining Human Societies and the Environment. Our coursework focused on environmental problems, how people interpret these problems and what we can do to help solve them. Climate change and how it is impacting the Great Barrier Reef was a big highlight and a significant focus of our time.
What changed me most on the trip was my passion for traveling. Before going to a session on education abroad I didn’t think studying abroad would be right for me. I felt like I wouldn’t feel comfortable leaving the country and attempting to continue my school work. However, after hearing about other people’s experiences I decided to apply. I always loved traveling but now I feel much more confident in my ability to travel alone and confident in my ability to continue my education outside the classroom and in a foreign country.
Something else that will stick with me after the trip is the positive attitude that so many people had when talking about doing your individual part to stop climate change. I think I am more aware of the many ways I can make a difference and can better realize that the things I am doing on my own do matter, and are helping. Before, it was hard to imagine that my small actions were making a difference, but now I know they are and will continue to improve upon them.
Doing research on the Great Barrier Reef has given me an immense appreciation for the biodiversity of our planet. The team and researchers out on the reef with us were incredible and had so much passion for the planet, and for the work they were doing. Hiking in the Wet Tropics also opened my eyes to incredible number of plant and animal species that have their own ways to adapt in the rainforest.
My passions for traveling and learning about climate change changed the way I think about how I can spend my years after graduation. After this experience, I feel confident that I can continue to go abroad and work and study these issues in academia. I want to experience other countries and learn about what they are doing to stop climate change and the kinds of environmental challenges they face.
This trip was particularly valuable because it has given me confidence, experience and passion for working on environmental problems. It has allowed me to gain a greater appreciation for what is being done around the globe to protect this planet. It has also given me confidence to be able to work anywhere in the world in my future career. I am so glad I stepped out of my comfort zone and went on this once and a lifetime trip.