Reflection by Casey O’Brien

For future students, my advice would be to try very hard to fit a program into your time at the College. Even if it is just a short two-week one since you have a hard schedule, which is what I did. It is very worth it. There are some things you cannot learn or experience in a classroom. The opportunity to travel and study abroad at CofC is a great one and it is rare. Make sure you take advantage of it. This trip has prepared me for my future career by allowing me to practice teamwork and communication skills in an extreme environment. This trip has also boosted my confidence going forward. Confidence in my ability to speak Spanish, make new friends and practice chemistry in a non-lab environment. I have made new friends on this trip of all ages, and they were people I would not have ever had the chance to meet and get to know unless I went on this trip. We are all from a variety of backgrounds so none of us would have been friends unless we were pushed out of our comfort zones but since we were we are all better for it. As for how this trip changed my perspective on my place in the world, there were two main things. One is my gratitude, I have always practiced this, but there is a difference between knowing you are lucky and going and seeing firsthand how lucky you really are. To be able to pursue education and not have to worry about if the water you are drinking is going to poison you are things that may get taken for granted, even I do may do that sometimes when I stress about other less important problems, but this trip really puts in perspective how lucky I am to have been dealt the cards I was and I am grateful for that. The next thing I learned was tips on happiness, especially from the people in a community called El Placer. These people lived well below the poverty line and you would be able to tell just walking through their town. However, these people were also some of the happiest people I have ever met. They kept their family and friends close, did not concern themselves with materialistic things, and treated others how they would want to be treated. Seeing an entire community doing this was incredible and unlike anything, I had ever seen. This trip was incredible and has given me the itch to continue traveling.

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