Final Blog Rachel Medaugh

In life we face many journeys, so many new paths to travel and chances to discover who we are or who we would like to be. It is not often that we have the chance to face a journey in which we know its exact start and end date, but that’s the exactly what this trip has been for me, it always had a strict end date. A three month journey in which I have tried to explore the whole path, absorb every minuscule detail of the island and hopefully never forget a single moment and grow through out my time here. And no matter how much I never wanted the sun to rise on the final morning of my time here, I knew with all certainty that day would come to pass. I could only hope that I had done all I came to do and could say goodbye to the island with a content heart, and as our boat slowly motored out of Isabela’s harbor I realized I was leaving the island with more than I could ever imagine was possible at first; memories, stories, both good and bad, a new sense of direction in my life, friends to last a life time, and a pretty amazing second language capability. These are just a few of the things my three months in the Galapagos have given me at the end of my journey. In a town of roughly 2,500 people that has no movie theatre, no shopping mall, and no reliable Internet connection many people would be bored out of their minds, that’s what Puerto Villamil sounds like on paper. Luckily for us Puerto Villamil is located in possibly the most beautiful island archipelago in the world, every day there is a new natural experience waiting for any one, the island showed me why it is so important to explore what is right outside your door because you never know how amazing the same place can be every day and how much it can change in a place like Isabela. Not once during three months was I tired of walking the long white sand beach out to el faro and then just sit and watch. Something amazing was bound to happen, or I was going to meet more locals and make more friends. And sometimes I could just go into the waves with my friends and we would just watch the waves crash and talk and talk until we were completely pruned beyond recognition. Many people talk about the “island lifestyle” how its pace is slower and things aren’t ever hurried, I can now see the value behind that, Isabela taught me that things should be enjoyed, that it’s okay to try and do everything but that I must be sure I don’t miss a moment to enjoy just being because I’m too worried about what I need to be doing later. Every hour and every day I had there was very precious and I learned to enjoy them all to the fullest. Studying abroad no matter where you go is an amazing chance and I believe every one should do it, but I can’t imagine there is any other type of study abroad program that can replicate what I experienced on Isabela. Being in such a small town you really become submerged into the culture and family life there, I had over 50 cousins and where ever I went somebody knew me and wanted to talk with me. The atmosphere of open and friendly people is tangible because everybody is curious about who you are and where you come from, and it doesn’t matter if you speak perfect Spanish or not, they will figure out a way to talk with you. The opportunity to have classes in the morning and then walk down the street 5 minutes to actually observe what we discussed in class 30 minutes ago is phenomenal, it gave me the opportunity to have an out of class experience and taught me to apply knowledge to real life observations. Something I consider extremely special that I gained out of this experience as well is 14 new people that I will forever be connected to because of our study abroad experience together; we were there for each other through all the language barriers, the stomach battles, the long hours of class and the amazing sunsets on the beach. I can’t imagine not having been there with out them and I know that as we all move on to our next journeys separately we can still have each other to lean on in times of need, even though the distance may be great.

Hiking up Sierra Negra