Michael Gavlick
Environmental Studies
Class of 2011
King's Faculty-Led Program
Peruvian Amazon

How did you select your Study/Intern Abroad location?

Dr. Barr was leading the program, and I always enjoyed the classes that he taught. Also, I am an Environmental Studies major and Dr. Barr is a biology professor, so the focus on Tropical Ecosystems was very appropriate for my area of study.

Why did you want to study or intern abroad?

Hopefully it will not be, but travelling to the tropics may very well be a once in a lifetime experience. The tropics are a hotspot for research and they're full of biodiversity, so when I heard about a science trip to Peru I was very intrigued.

What were the highlights of this experience?

The greatest highlight of the trip was experiencing the rainforest firsthand - hiking, canoeing, machetes, mindboggling diversity of plants and animals… In addition, we got to experience the culture of Peru by travelling to different villages, cities (Cusco), and historical sites (Machu Picchu) and interacting with Peruvians that have very different lifestyles than ours.

What surprised you the most?

Perhaps it was the areas that we visited, but I was somewhat surprised at how developed Peru was. I guess I was also fairly surprised when a tapir ran through the forest next to us on a night hike.

How has (or how might) this experience affect your major and future career?

I plan on going to graduate school for plant taxonomy or ecology. Learning about all the plants we encountered in the forest only deepened my interest in botany. Furthermore, at the two forest sites we visited I spoke with researchers, both of whom encouraged me to pursue this field. They may have sealed the deal.

What would you tell students considering studying or interning abroad?

There is such a variety of different places to choose from. Find the place and perhaps the subject focus that best suits you.

Back to Student Experiences