I have always had an interest in traveling. My traveling adventures started when I was much younger. Every year, my family would take a summer road trip to celebrate the end of the school year. I was always fascinated by the spectacular scenery and the dazzling cities we would pass through. However, what made the trips special was bonding with my dad. One of the things my dad and I have always had in common was our passion for traveling. We would often sit together and map out the summer trip weeks (sometimes even months) in advance. We even set a goal to visit all 50 states before me and my brother left for college. Although we did not hit all 50 states (we came very close), we had an unforgettable time during all our travels. Therefore, I could not wait for college so I could get the opportunity to study abroad and look for ways to change the world. Now, here I am in Puerto Rico doing just that!
This trip to Puerto Rico is my first study abroad experience. I have always wanted to study abroad, but before college, I never truly believed it would be feasible. Although I have been all over the continental United States, I have never been off the mainland to a place as exotic as Puerto Rico. So far, getting to see the island’s wonderful cities and diverse cultures has been eye-opening. There are quite a few aspects of Puerto Rico that surprised me. First, the enormous size of the island blew me away. On a map, it appears like it would only take a half hour or so to drive from end to end. But I reality, it would probably take a little over three hours to drive from the east coast to the west coast. With this immense amount of land comes a wide variety of land uses. I was astonished that most of the land we drove through was heavily developed. As we traversed the island I saw cities, plantations, mines, houses in the mountains, dams, and lighthouses. However, one thing I noticed was the lack of areas completely untouched by man. Even though Puerto Rico has natural areas, they are almost all confined within the borders of El Yunque National Forest. The aforementioned signs of human development are quite remarkable, but they require a lot of space and they eventually degrade environmental quality. People need natural areas because they increase both physical and emotional well-being. Other ecosystem services include water purification, nutrient cycling, climate regulation, biodiversity, and food. To maintain these ecosystem services, it is imperative that we immediately devise some sort of a balance between developed land and natural land. I am happy I got the chance to travel to Puerto Rico because it has made me realize my place in the world as well as my future ambitions: to designate more wilderness areas with the intention of increasing biodiversity and overall environmental health. Moreover, my goal is to initiate progress by bringing people together to realize the significance of land conservation. However, this will not be easy because it will take a global effort. I am confident that my individual efforts will be driven by my passion for traveling the world and determination to preserve the land. The world needs more people who have the same ideals to save natural areas from disappearing forever.
This trip has also been socially beneficial to me. Most of my peers are majoring in a different field than I am. Therefore, it was very interesting to learn a little about their backgrounds and future desires. Each of them are very interesting and I have had a wonderful time being with them in Puerto Rico. It felt great to be surrounded by brilliant minds that are just as eager as I am to develop plans to fix some of the world’s most complex problems.
It is very important to travel the world to get to know other people and their cultures. Furthermore, it is vital to understand what other countries are doing to increase environmental quality and agricultural efficiency. This is because our perspective, as Americans, is considerably limited. Without a variety of opinions, worldviews, cultures, and ideas, it would be nearly impossible to solve some of the world’s greatest difficulties.
I am quite certain that I will never lose my passion for traveling. However, if I do find myself losing motivation, I will reflect on the fun times I had with my family on the road. Furthermore, I would think of the large number environmental problems that exist around the world: the food crisis, the water crisis, biodiversity loss, deforestation, climate change, pollution, waste management, and urban sprawl. Then I would remind myself that the world needs my contribution along with the contribution of others to go out and fix these problems. Obviously, solving these issues will not be easy. However, I am very confident that the people of our world can unite and conserve our environment for future generations.