Panama by Julia Piermattei

While staying at the field lab station in Bocas del Toro; an island off of the Northern Panama coast,  we did so many activities such as snorkeling, caving, and hiking in the rainforest.  These hands-on activities were very different from the typical classroom setting at the College and I loved it.  Our lectures before each of these adventures were helpful supplemental material to what we were learning on the island.  I learned so much more by doing these activities and observing the course material in real life.  I saw sting rays, coral reefs, barracudas, and starfish in the oceans along with a wide variety of trees, plants, and animals in the caves and rainforests like bats, spiders, woodpeckers, lizards, frogs, possums, crabs, and so much more.  Close to the field station, we visited the first Panama canal.  This canal is nowhere near compared to the size of the Panama canal used today that is closer to Panama City.  I had no idea there were 2 canals in Panama and was very interested in the histories of them. 

The living situation at the lab station is something I was not used to at first.  We stayed in bunk beds with each bed surrounded by a mosquito net.  Water was limited because of the drought so long showers were a rarity. Power and internet only come on at night but during the day, but we are out doing so many things that I lose track of time and am hardly on any electronic device.  

There are so many cultural and natural differences in Panama than in the USA which made it hard for me to get used to at first.  But I enjoyed trying new things and being adventurous to pass the time.  I had the best pineapple, bananas, and plantains I’ve ever had in Bocas and I saw the biggest spider I have ever seen.  I have made great friends and met so many new people that I have learned so much from that helped me become more immersed in the Panamanian culture.  

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