Studying abroad in Bonaire
February 3, 2017
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When going for a dive in the deep, blue ocean you might think about how much of an outcast you look like to all of the oceanic creatures around you. But as a land dweller, you are the minority to a sea turtle! Katherine Shumaker and Sierrah McCarthy recently had this realizattion as students in Catawba College’s marine biology course. Students in this course had the opportunity to visit Bonaire last semester and to experience life under the sea first hand.
During this course, students learned about different fish species as well as other marine life like coral, turtles and other organisms. Katherine Shumaker, a senior double majoring in environmental science and biology, explained that students in this course al learned how to scuba dive and became a certified scuba diver. Students were certified through Open Water Adventures and traveled to Concord once a week to learn the correct way to dive and how to use their gear to stay safe while exploring the ocean. After learning how to identify marine life and dive, it was time to put their skills to the test and gain confidence in their diving skills. What better way to do that than to take a trip to the largest classroom, the deep blue sea in Bonaire.
While in Bonaire, students were free to dive as much as they wanted and to explore the island. Sophomore biology major, Sierrah McCarthy, stated that she tried to dive as many times as she could and ended up diving 18 times while on the island. Bonaire is a protected marine park, therefore the habitat is undisturbed by humans, making it a perfect dive spot for students to see plenty of marine life. Katherine and Sierrah listed many marine creatures they found while underwater, including green sea turtles, stingray, beautiful coral reefs, and many different types of fish. Sierrah said “It was so rewarding actually getting to see and experience the things that we studied all semester, underwater.”
Katherine and Sierrah expressed how much they learned while having the chance to take what they learned in the classroom to study abroad. Many courses offer the chance to study outside of the classroom and the chance to experience things we may not be able to experience through books. Sierrah advises, “I would highly encourage students to study abroad if they get the opportunity to. Not only do you get to travel and learn new things about yourself but you’re also getting educated and figuring out your field of interest.”