Back on the mainland with cold toes and tan lines! What a way to spend Jan Term, I had some expectations going in and they were blown out of the water. This course had everything you could ask for and I could not be more thankful for the opportunity I had. A lot of what I had heard about previous Jan Term courses was that they were light on the academic side and basically a glorified vacation. Janet and Jay made sure this was not the case for us making sure we had academic challenges throughout as well as cultural experiences and the tourist experience as well. Thank goodness for that because my parents would be furious if I spent this much money on a glorified vacation for credit.
By maintaining a blog, journal, and presenting to all ages about diabetes we definitely had plenty on our plate to keep us busy. Presenting was one of my favorite activities while on Eleuthera. Being able to present a complex disease like diabetes to 3rd graders is a challenge that I was happy to accept. Presenting to a Rotary Club with some of the most important adults on the island as well as former president’s daughter was another daunting challenge that I was glad to hurdle. By the end of our trip we could do those presentations in our sleep and we definitely cemented in our brains every concept relating to diabetes.
I also enjoyed exploring the islands; hiking to out-of-the-way mind-blowing beaches, swimming with sting rays, baby octopi, jellyfish, and incredible fish, watching hungry sharks, diving blue holes, stargazing, and chasing sunsets we were able to truly get a feel for the beautiful environment and habitat that is the Bahamas. I learned so much about myself and constantly pushed my boundaries to new limits. Staying with foreign families in a foreign place is not usually my idea of fun but the homestay weekend really made my trip special. Very few Americans can say they hit an inside-the-park homerun playing for a Bahamian softball team at 10 o’clock at night. I learned that there are some proud bakers out there with no secrets who are more than happy to let you roll out some dough and make conch patties. I learned how a sustainable facility is not only plausible but easily possible and I learned how to live a greener life as well as appreciate hot showers and dishwashers.
The group of students who accompanied me on this once in a lifetime trip walked onto the plane in Portland as acquaintances and returned as friends. I’ve never enjoyed living with 12 people more and I can’t believe how well we all got a long. I enjoyed learning all of their strengths and the kind of characters they are, this trip definitely would not have been as enjoyable without them. For any student considering this class in the future or any time abroad I would urge them to leave any prejudice and fear back home, travel with an open mind and trust the people around you. You’ll never learn anything about yourself taking the straight path through life with your guard up so relax and try something new, talk to everyone you can, and push your limits. You will be happy you did.