Over this past spring break, the new CALS study abroad program UW Banking Animal Biodiversity in Costa Rica ran for the first time. The program was led by Francisco Pelegri, Professor of Genetics and Medical Genetics, and included 18 UW-Madison students. One of those students was Vanessa Writt, senior biology student from Green Bay, WI. We asked her a few reflection questions about her time in Costa Rica, which she enjoyed so much. Check out Vanessa’s answers below!
How does this program fit into your academic plan/major?
I took Genetics last year and completely fell in love with it. This program combined my loves of Genetics, research, and travel and I knew it was a perfect it for me.
What were 1-2 highlights of the program for you?
My favorite thing we did was go to the Las Pumas big cat rescue. I’m a huge cat lover and having the biologist walk around with us and tell us all about the animals was awesome! The other highlight of the program for me was getting to walk on the bridges in the canopy of the rainforest and see the vast jungle everywhere.
What advice do you have for other students considering studying abroad?
My advice if you want to study abroad is do it! It doesn’t matter what your major is, you can find a program that is good for you. There are so many options that are over spring, winter, or summer break so it can fit in if you want it to!
What was the average day like on your program?
The average day varied so much because we were at 3 different sites over the course of the week. Typically, we would eat breakfast, have an activity/lecture, eat lunch, do another activity, eat dinner, and then have a workshop about research, conservation, etc. A lot of our days involved traveling, too. The week flew by really fast because we were always busy!
What have you gained academically, professionally, and or personally on this experience?
I learned a lot about what conservation research is being done and got to think a lot about how science has allowed us to learn about animal and plant relationships. I enjoyed having the opportunity to talk to researchers and biologists who study these organisms. I loved getting to see a new country and learn about a new culture in the process!
Has this program brought any new perspectives into your life? If so, how?
I feel like I definitely have more perspective on how rainforests (and the species that live in them) are being affected by human influence. It’s one thing to learn about these things in a book or in a class, but completely different to actually see it in person.
Interested in this program?
Find out more and apply here: studyabroad.wisc.edu/AnimalBiodiversity