Weekends as a study abroad student


After a Thursday and Friday spent toiling on final projects for Social Ecology, students made the most of their second free weekend in Isabela; highlights included all varieties of water sports, intense tournaments of ultimate frisbee, hiking in the highlands, and continued exploration of our beautiful home in Puerto Villamil.

Island wide beach clean up!

On Saturday morning, UGalapagos participated in an archipelago-wide cleanup: locals and IOI volunteers united, fanning out across the island and surrounding waters to collect all forms of pollution and debris. By the end of the day, Isabela teams had collected over 448 kg of trash!

Me and my “mom” Ruth!

Me and my “mom” Ruth!

Every Sunday is “family day” for study abroad students, who take time out of their week to bond with the beloved host families of IOI. This past Sunday I was lucky to spend the day with my “madre” Ruth Gomez and her extended family up in the highlands.

We hiked the beautiful Sierra Negra volcano in the morning then explored the picturesque “Equine Camp” in the afternoon.


It’s hard to decide what I enjoyed most: seeing faces young and old light up with joy when everyone took turns riding horseback, embracing what I like to call my “inner-Eliza-Thornberry” whilst bonding with the five dogs and dozen horses that call the Camp home, or learning all types of new card games with nothing more than laughably basic Spanish, a series of hand movements, astute observation that any scientist would be proud of (stay tuned for a peer-reviewed thesis on the game theory behind it all), and most importantly, a blessedly patient family to teach me.


IOI was happy to welcome the arrival of Donald Olson, or as the locals affectionately refer to him, our very own Charles Darwin! When he’s not talking about birds, he’s teaching us all about physical oceanography and the plethora of atmospheric and oceanic factors influencing the world we see around us. We started the week off strong with a 10-hour boat trip yesterday, complete with lava rock tour and two amazing snorkels. Students happily braved the frigid waters to swim with flights of sleek eagle rays and golden/cow-nose rays, a horde of baby blacktip sharks, and a number of mellow sea turtles.

Until our next adventure,

Claire Griffin