Olivia Alvarez Rhaesa
Environmental Studies Major with Minors in Biology and Geography
Class of 2020
Peru: King’s Faculty Lead Program, Tropical Ecosystems: Forests of the Peruvian Amazon

How did you select your Study/Intern Abroad location?

I was looking to study abroad somewhere, and King’s offered a program for both my major and my minor. This program was a short term study abroad lead by professors at King’s. I went with a group of King’s students for a few weeks in the summer.

Why did you want to study or intern abroad?

I knew I wanted the experience of going to another country. Plus, with the program I picked there was a chance to do research in the Amazon Rainforest. I ended up doing research on the color preference of hummingbirds. This branched into what I want to do in the future, which is doing research with endangered animals in South America.

What were the most memorable experiences of your time abroad?

One of the most memorable experiences was when we were at the research station, Los Amigos. It was so hot and dry for the first two days, then out of nowhere it started down pouring. We all went out and danced and played out in the rain. That was my favorite time of bonding.

Another time, Sara Ahmed and I went for long hike on Trail 10. We were so tired and about ready for a rest when we stumbled onto a bend that had a clearing. This clearing looked over at the Los Amigos River. We looked at the other side of the river and we saw a family of capybara. There had to be at least ten of them. We sat there until they left.

What surprised you the most about yourself/the trip?

I was surprised that I really liked being in another country. I liked expanding my knowledge of other cultures. Another thing that surprised me was my ability to use my Spanish. I grew up in a Puerto Rican household but I did not really use my Spanish. Going to a Spanish speaking country caused me to practice my Spanish.

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

This experience has affected my future career because I am now thinking of joining the Peace Corps when I graduate from undergraduate school or graduate school. Seeing and learning about all the endangered animals made me want to work with them in the future.

What would you tell students considering studying or interning abroad?

Do it. It is totally worth getting that experience. You can truly find out what you want to do and who you want to be. You can learn so much in such a short time. It can be a good foundation for the rest of your life.

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