U-Turns and Lizards

After spending two weeks in Puerto Rico, traveling to different places and partaking in various activities; there are a few things that I have noticed that reminded me about the importance of perspective. To start, simply living with twelve other people that I wasn’t the closest with reminded me how a group of people with so many similarities can still lead completely different lives. Everyone on this trip had similar interests that brought us to Puerto Rico, but we all have had different responds to the things we experienced. On the other hand, simply being in Puerto Rico has given me new perspective on global issues. Particularly, how an engineer might handle an issue they need to solve. I used to think that should they ever be faced with an international problem, they could simply travel to the area and evaluate the best way to construct a solution. But now after this trip, I’ve realized that the best way to be prepared to face global issue is to gain as international an education as possible. While traveling to the problem is necessary, I’ve found it rather eye opening to go and live in a place other than my comfort zone. This is because when living somewhere you gain a more accurate idea of what the people there find convenient and acceptable. Even though you couldn’t truly live everywhere to learn how to best handle all situations; simply the act of learning to live somewhere will give you a more open mind to deal with other places. Examples for Puerto Rico would be the commonality of U-turns, from my perspective I was always told to try to the limit the number of U-turns you make; meanwhile in Puerto Rico U-turns appear to be very common, even necessary to get the direction you want to go. Therefore, if a civil engineer would need to solve a problem, they would have to consider the differences in driving styles, while something like this might be obvious for certain places, it isn’t necessarily the case in all cases. But while you were in college you took the chance to learn in places other than you’re used to you would be more prepared to adapt your plan of action. 430

This trip has also reminded me that if one thing small thing changes in the environment, every where else can experience different issues. For example, during El nino Illinois experiences a slightly warmer and less snowy winter; but in Puerto Rico the warmer weather means less rain. While they suffered a drought last year, the warm weather this year will not help in recuperating, actually it will most likely cause harm to the quality of the following coffee harvest. While El nino is a natural occurrence, there are other factors that are quickly becoming issues, but the effect each location vastly differently. It’s important to recognize that every place has it’s own nuances and niches it needs to function properly. While we hiked around the beach in Cabo Rojo, everyone saw many bearded lizards, which actually aren’t native to Puerto Rico at all.  But people have released them and Puerto Rico has provided them with the resources to survive. Seeing all these non-native lizards got me thinking about invasive species and how a balanced ecosystem can so quickly be turned upside down by one species. It’s only after all these small observations that I realized my perspective was very one sided. It was all just facts I thought I knew and thought I understood. But in reality nothing comes close to seeing the real occurrences and the issues people are facing firsthand. Many people think that if they read about a subject they’ll be able to understand it. While they might be able to on a technical level, they won’t be able to have a full, well-rounded knowledge of said subject. Overall this trip taught me more than some facts about Puerto Rico, it broaden my perspective and changed how I plan to approach certain aspects of my education (aka study abroad in the more exotic places that challenge my comfort zone).DSC_0599