What Do The Students Think?

Students' comments are organized into three topics:
1. About the UGalapagos Biology Fall program, 2. About the first month: Quito, the highlands, and the Amazon and 3. About the Galapagos

1. About the UGalapagos Biology Fall program

“It has been the most incredible thing I’ve ever done in my life and others would definitely feel the same after going through this program."

“The greatest skills that I got from this program are presentation skills, oral communication, which I lacked, reading and discussing scientific literature, and group work. Being in a huge lecture hall would not have exposed me and pushed me to work on those skills.”

“I enjoyed the courses.  Tropical Ecology was neat because you can learn about different ecosystems in class, then have field trips and experience them.  Incredible!  I liked the plant course, I could apply what I learned as I was walking around the island and I learned about invasive species.”

“I appreciated every part of this program.  I enjoyed the professors, all were interesting, active, good speakers, teachers, worked well comprehensively with students.  I appreciate the places we went in Ecuador, for example I was very happy to see Condors in flight.  I am happy I took this program and would not trade the month in Ecuador for anything.”

“The group work is good, because people think that when you are done with school, you are done with group work, but they will realize that you will often have to work with people you don’t like for the rest of your life.  When you work with other people, you get other people’s ideas, you see the very different ways they think, different perspectives.”

“This program is a very effective way to learn these subjects.  My most engaging classes are plants, herpetology, and the tropical biology trip.  Wonderful way to learn about the flora and fauna, this program offers the best crash courses in Ecology and Evolution in one track!”

 “I learned a lot about myself.”

“From the minute I stepped off the plane till the minute I got back on, I loved absolutely everything about the experience. I have never felt so at home.”

2. About the first month: Quito, the highlands, and the Amazon

“Being in Quito is like being in very expensive tourist program, great food, got to go to neat places, amazing people, a great host family who spent hours trying to teach me Spanish.”

 “In Maquipucuna, the cloud forest we visited, we had an amazing excursion. We went on a night walk to an area with a bright light set up to attract moths, butterflies and many other insects. We were surrounded by these nocturnal creatures, who slept on us due to the interference of the light with their circadian activities, an experience that struck me with awe at the incredible biodiversity of the cloud forest.”

“The five days we spent in the Amazon have been my favorite part. My most treasured experience in the Amazon, and one of the ultimate moments of my life, was watching the bats feed on the river at dusk.  There was a gentle sense of tranquility accompanied by absolute awe at the beauty of nature as I watched the bats weave through the air, swooping down and skimming along the surface of the water in order to catch the insects. As the sun set on the river and I watched the bats dance in and out of its’ reflection on the water, I experienced the purest sensation of belonging. “

“I discovered I love to be active and out in the field after hiking through the Amazon for five days and taking trips to the cloud forest and páramo.”

 “Spending a week in the Amazon Rainforest was one of the most rewarding experiences of this program and my entire life.  We spent eight hours each day alongside guides and researchers walking the paths of well-renowned scientists.  We studied the behaviors of many extraordinary wild animals, such as pigmy marmosets, spider and woolly monkeys, tapirs, and caimans.  We even got to see the rare pink river dolphins, a personal favorite of mine. Living in the middle of the rainforest in cabins with limited hours of electricity, cold showers, and no communication to the outside world was truly an enriching experience.”

“In the Amazon, we had the opportunity to see remarkable adaptions in plants. Almost every plant in the Amazon has epiphytes growing on it, but there was one kind of tree whose trunk was bare, due to its yearly shedding to rid itself of epiphytes.”

“There are hundreds of types of bats in the Amazon, and we had the opportunity to observe one type, the tent- maker bat, in close proximity. These bats will strategically break large leaves to create a structure in which they can rest, making them miniature architectures of the jungle.”

3. About the Galapagos

“What better way to learn ecology than to go to the Galápagos Islands’ natural laboratory?”

“I keep having little bursts of pride when I am typing on my computer and a finch lands next to me. Nowhere else in the world can a finch mean so much to people.”

 “My study abroad experience in the Galápagos surpassed my expectations.  In such a short time I discovered so much about the Galápagos, animals, culture, customs and about myself.  I will forever remember this experience as a life changing one.”

“My Galapagos family was great.  I was sick twice, and my host mom was all over it.  The first time was intestinal, over the weekend, and my parents took great care of me, woke me up to take my meds.  So nice. “

“Even though the Galápagos Islands aren’t as explosively diverse as the Amazonian rainforest, they still provide some of the most intriguing food for thought on the way the world works.”

"My first full day, as I walked to school, I was thrown by the simple fact that the finches on the ground in front of me were Darwin’s Finches!!!

"It's such a down to earth experience. Everyday you come across wildlife.  Whether it be walking to class and dodging the lava lizards who are defending their territories or kayaking through the port and watching the sea lions hunt, the diversity of the island almost follows you around."

“My semester abroad in the Galápagos was the best learning experience of my college career.  Not only did I get to learn from some of the best professors, I gained a new family and learned a lot about myself.”

 “Between the sea lions, marine iguanas and (my new found love for) lava lizards, I found myself in a world of beauty like I could never imagine. It is every scientists’ dream to spend time on the Islands, and being able to not only study but also live there is an experience I’ll never forget.”