Rider to the Galápagos

Take a look at the journey of a group of students from Rider University as they traveled to the Galápagos Islands in the month of January.

These students come from all walks of life and particularly, different majors ranging from Business, Geology, Environmental or Marine Science, and Communications.

Baltra

Fresh off the plane... We have just landed in Baltra Island! Here we are waiting for our ferry to Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz, where we will be staying. Puerto Ayora served as our "home base" where every morning we would take take a short bus ride to the port and embark to another island via yacht or ferry. Above we were waiting for our first boat ride of many.

There were many boat rides we took throughout our journey in the Galápagos Islands.

These were always a ton of fun. The boat rides to and from the islands gave us all a bit of time to relax and get to know each other. Prior to the Galápagos, I only knew about four or five students. When the trip concluded, I can gladly say that I've really learned a lot from the other students and have walked away with more friends. The experiences we all had together goes far beyond the Galápagos, it stays with us for life.

Puerto Ayora, Darwin Research Center

"Marine iguanas were some of the most interesting creatures in the Galapagos. They lounged and strolled through the town almost like squirrels do back at home. It was amazing how unbelievably close you could get to them."

- Katelyn White, senior studying environmental science, journalism, and sustainability

Faculty members were able to get a close up look on things as well. The benefit of having them around was that they were professionals in their field. The four professors we were with all come from different professional backgrounds. They were able to give us some great perspective from the field that coincided with the things we were experiencing in the moment.

Whether it was Dr. Janes telling us different ways to angle the camera to take better photos, Dr. Newman explaining how ecotourism is beneficial to the Galápagos Islands or Dr. Husch and Dr. Gallagher letting us know why a certain rock is the way it is  and how it got that way, their insight has definitely broadened our perspective while on this trip.

"The geology of the Galápagos really left an impact on me. From the moment I saw the young volcanic pahoehoe and lava flows, I knew I was studying the thing that made me happy. Every rock I touched and looked at left an impact on me. I felt like every sample I saw, I was discovering a rich gem. It is really hard put into words the way I felt about looking at the rocks and animals, but I will never forget it."

-- Steve Schwartz, Junior studying Geology and Sustainability

South Plazas Island

The four communication students on the trip.

Daisy, Lauren, myself, Ryan, and Dr. Janes!

We are doing "the Milvian" pose. As soon as we got to the Galápagos Islands, we made dances according to what actions people would do or how people would act. For instance, when we would do "the Ryan" we would all have our arms crossed with an emotionless face.  If we did "the Flamingo" we would stand on one leg. The list goes on. By the end of the trip, we had a whole dance routine created.

Sea lions can be found everywhere on the islands. During our visit to the island of Santa Fe, we were able to come across a large group of sea lions just lounging out by the sand.

This was probably one of my favorite moments in the Galápagos and I'm glad that it was captured. I vividly remember seeing the sea lions and exclaiming, "Wow, I would love to be a sea lion. All they ever seem to do is chill and lay around." One classmate quickly responded, "Well, you're a college student - so that's close enough right?" Everyone then chuckled so I then decided to channel my inner sea lion, as seen above. I'd like to think that the sea lion liked me.

Seymour Island

The tour guides in the Galápagos were very insightful. Many of these guides have been living on the islands all of their life and can't ever imagine living anywhere other than these islands. They're passionate about the environment and species and want to spread their knowledge to the travelers that come. The guides had an answer for every question someone had, no matter how ridiculous it might have been. I'd like to think we all learned some valuable information from the tour guides.

Rider Bonding in Various Islands

Did we become more aware of eco-tourism? Yes. Did we learn about the different species on the islands? Of course. But there's more to that. Learning about the following is great as it is required on the syllabus. However, the big picture is the overall experience -- immersing yourself in the culture and your surroundings.

For many on the trip, it was their first time outside of the country. Being exposed to a culture in a different hemisphere with a native tongue other than English is a challenge for many people. But that's what makes the learning experience unique and it's something that a classroom can't provide. It's something that broadens your perspective on everything around you. Whether we were hiking an island to get the best view or walking around the small city center, we were able to have these experiences together.

What we saw and learned, and how we felt is something we can all relate to with each other and it's something that is embedded in us forever. Although the trip was only  less than two weeks long, these type of experiences aren't something we leave behind with us at the airport. We take the things we've learned and apply them to our every day life.

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