Alexandra Gulick currently works as a International Ambassador for the International Degree and Education Abroad office. Prior to this position, she studied abroad in Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean with CIEE: Tropical Marine Ecology and Conservation program in Fall ’10. She not only obtained personal growth, but found a passion for marine ornithology. Her next step is to be accepted into the Fisheries and Wildlife graduate program at Oregon State University.
The decision to go abroad while in college was one I made when I was very young…I want to say when I was in kindergarten. All I knew about the concept was I would get to live in another country. While I doubt I fully understood my decision, the thought of being somewhere completely different fascinated me.
Growing up on a ranch in a very small town in Eastern Oregon, thinking about the world outside of my little bubble was beyond intriguing. Whether it was the goal to go to college, study abroad, or be a marine biologist, I was more than determined to accomplish it all. Little did I know, spending a term in a different country would not only determine my career aspirations and teach me independence, but it would be the experience of a lifetime.
I studied abroad in Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean during the fall of my junior year (2010). For four months I lived at the CIEE Research Station as a student of the Tropical Marine Ecology and Conservation program with fifteen US students. A typical day in Bonaire would usually consist of class in the morning (e.g. coral biology, tropical marine conservation) and spending the afternoon underwater learning the many wonders of the local coral reefs.
I chose this program because it gave me the opportunity to learn in a hands-on manner. Intense field, research, conservation, and community service experience barely graze the surface of the skills I gained from this program. Ultimately, the research project I did in Bonaire helped me define my career path. After conducting research on a local seabird, I had an instant interest in marine ornithology. Since my Bonaire experience, I have completed the marine biology program at the Hatfield
Marine Science Center, been a field technician for the Seabird Oceanography Lab at Hatfield, and been a research assistant for PRBO Conservation Science on the Farallone Islands. My next goal is to be accepted into the Fisheries and Wildlife graduate program at Oregon State and study the impacts of climate change on seabird ecology.
While Bonaire gave me the tools I needed to gain further experience in my field and discover my career aspirations, it also had a profound effect on how I see myself and the world around me. I am now a much more independent, aware, and open-minded individual. I have always loved meeting new people, but for me now, meeting people has become such a necessity in my life. I am fascinated by different cultures and the rich backgrounds of people around the world. I now know what it is like to truly be immersed and part of another culture; it’s thrilling, intriguing, and an incredible feeling! Thanks to Bonaire, I understand the importance and benefits of spending time abroad. As an Education Abroad Ambassador for the International Degree and Education Abroad office, I absolutely love encouraging and supporting others to have an adventure of their own.