Garrett in Bonaire – Bon dia!

Bon dia!

(That is “Good day!” in Papiamentu, the official language of Bonaire.)

My name is Garrett, and I am a rising junior at the University of Richmond as a Mathematics and Biology double major, with an as-yet-undeclared minor in Integrated Science. However, this upcoming semester I will be studying abroad in Bonaire as a part of the CIEE program in Tropical Marine Ecology and Conservation.

First thing’s first. I know most of you are asking “Bon-where?” Well, it is in fact a small Caribbean island off the coast of Venezuela. It is a special municipality of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and was formerly part of the Lesser Antilles. It is located in the southern Caribbean as a part of the ABC islands, along with its neighbors Aruba and Curaçao.

Fifty miles off the coast of Venezuela, Bonaire is situated in the southern Caribbean along with the rest of the ABC islands From Google: http://www.harbourvillage.com/art11/bonaire/image001.jpg

Fifty miles off the coast of Venezuela, Bonaire is situated in the southern Caribbean along with the rest of the ABC islands
From Google: http://www.harbourvillage.com/art11/bonaire/image001.jpg

The island itself is approximately 114 square miles and is home to about 17,500 people. To give a size reference, it is less than half of the size of New York City (that’s including all five Boroughs) and has a population size that falls somewhere between the undergraduate student populations of UVA and Virginia Tech.

A map of Bonaire shows that it is only about 24 miles long and 3-5 miles wide. From Google: http://www.lovebonaire.com/images/BonaireMap-MED.gif

A map of Bonaire shows that it is only about 24 miles long and 3-5 miles wide.
From Google: http://www.lovebonaire.com/images/BonaireMap-MED.gif

Additionally, you may be wondering about CIEE. Well, my specific program is not run through a foreign university like many people would think of a stereotypical study abroad experience. Instead, my study abroad experience is run through the Council on International Educational Exchange or CIEE. Through their program, I will be staying at a research station, with 12 other students, in Kralendijk, Bonaire, where we will be taking classes in marine biology and conducting our own marine research. And that is precisely why I chose this program. Not only can I take upper level biology classes that transfer credit back to UR, but I will also be getting a once in a lifetime experience living on a Caribbean island steps away from the ocean, where I will be scuba diving for my classes and gaining firsthand experience in a potential career field. In a week’s time, I will be out in the water with the coral reef as my classroom.

I can’t believe it. I leave in 4 days!

It may be because just four days ago I was moving my sister into her dorm room for her first semester at Arcadia, but right now, I’m experiencing the same emotional rollercoaster that came just before I moved off to college two years ago. Nervous because I don’t exactly know what is to come. Detached because I know all of my friends at UR are having a great first week of school. Excited because I know it’s going to be an amazing experience. Worried because I still have yet to pack. Stressed because, apparently, memorizing 100 fish ID’s in a week is something I also need to fit into my schedule. Eager because everyone tells me Bonaire has some of the most beautiful diving in the world. Whatever my emotions are now, I tell myself that I have to stay open-minded and be ready for new experiences.

Change is on the horizon, but it’s going to be the best sunrise I’ve seen in awhile!

Stay tuned for my adventures!

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