Now that I’ve been back in the US for almost two weeks, I’d like to reflect on this trip and my overall experience of travelling abroad on a faculty-led program.
First, I think that every student should try to attend one study abroad program during their undergraduate years, if possible. In many cases, travelling abroad does not have to be expensive; even faculty-led courses cost the same tuition as a student on-campus would pay. This opens up many doors for students who might have thought that they could not study abroad.
Secondly, if you are travelling to a country in Central America or South America, be prepared for the heat. Unlike Alabama, where it is relatively easy to escape the heat by heading into an air-conditioned house or shopping mall, countries like Belize tend to have limited facilities with air conditioning, especially houses. People with fair skin should apply sunscreen when spending time outdoors, and try to wear clothes made of nylon that wick away sweat. Also, the showers are generally not heated, so be prepared for cold or room temperature water coming through the pipes.
I didn’t spend enough time in Belize to really experience any reverse culture shock when I returned. Right when I got back to the US, I ate as much frozen pizza and mac and cheese from the grocery store as I could. I was very grateful for the hot water and chilly air conditioning. But after a couple of days of eating fast food and showering in hot water, I had fully assimilated back into my normal routine.
I don’t think that I would have minded staying in Belize for another two weeks, but I don’t know if I could have been there for more than a month. I’ll be spending five weeks in Iceland and Denmark this summer, so I should get my fill of cold weather soon!