I am a junior in Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences pursuing the International Degree, and for nearly four months, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Madagascar through the School for International Training’s (SIT) Biodiversity and Natural Resource Management program.
I spent the first month living with an urban host family in the south of the country while taking intensive French and Malgache language classes and learning about research methods and ethics, natural resource use, biodiversity, and cultural components of Madagascar society.
Then, fifteen of us SIT students and our instructors spent nearly a month traveling around the country, visiting national parks to study their management practices, and conducting interviews with locals to understand the parks’ influences on daily life.
During my third month in the country, I was on my own, conducting an independent research project. I was responsible for all of the details, from the research topic and methodology to lodging and transportation. I chose to study the composition of a bird community in a mangrove and salt-pan region on the southwestern coast of Madagascar.
My final time was spent writing my research thesis, giving a final presentation, and visiting the beautiful beaches of the northern coast.
I was originally drawn to the country based on its amazing biodiversity, but I found myself completely absorbed by the cultural aspects of Madagascar. Learning to communicate scientific ideas in two other languages was difficult but well worth the challenge. From this experience, I learned to trust myself, and I have since become more confident in my abilities to think critically and navigate successfully through the unknown.
Thanks to HC Experience, this academic adventure was made possible!
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