When asked about why she chose to take a travel course to Trinidad rather than stay on campus during winter II, senior Rupa Patel answered, “Why not?”
As a comparative religion minor, Patel set out on her trip feeling not only excited but well prepared for the differences she would be observing, thanks to the help of the course instructors, professor Aaron Greer and professor Don Schweitzer.
Although Patel said she felt that Greer and Schweitzer had the class well prepared for Trinidad, what she was not expecting was how involved the two stayed throughout the entire trip.
The instructors not only looked out for the group’s safety but they also made it a priority that they explored alongside the class, going out during the evening and having fun said Patel. Those experiences alone were well worth the trip, according to her.
It did not hurt that the trip was more inexpensive than Patel had expected. She would often only have to pay $2 to get enough food in return that would keep her full the entire day.
“It was pretty mind-blowing how cheap the food was,” she said.
And even with the price differences, Patel was able to step outside her comfort zone and test her palate with ox tail and shark.
Patel’s appreciation extended far beyond food, though. The “hustle and bustle” mentality of being in college that she was used to was not at all present for the people of Trinidad she said.
For example, Patel said she witnessed several occasions of people standing outside, waiting for the rain to pass rather than run through it to get to a destination, like people do in the United States.
Drinking in public is also not out of the question.
Because of these vibes, Patel said she very quickly established “a love and appreciation for how chill people are.”
“They are very outward with knowing you’re foreign,” she added.
This meant that regardless of who she was interacting with, Patel was constantly aware of how polite and approachable people were.
It was also interesting for Patel to put her comparative religion knowledge to use. She was raised Hindu and while in Trinidad, Patel was able to speak with priests and others who practice Hinduism.
“It was interesting to see how the religion I grew up on was similar and different in another country,” she said.
The learning experience of traveling abroad occurs on a number of different levels, according to Patel. Because of this, she highly recommends it to all students.
The biggest piece of advice she has for those considering study abroad, though, would be to “be willing to try new things” and “be very open-minded to differences.”