Things are wrapping up at an incredible rate. It feels like I just got on the plane to start an adventurous semester abroad in Costa Rica yet I’m finishing up my second independent project and done with finals. What’s even crazier is that 4 months ago I didn’t know anything about the tropics. I’ve personally learned more over the course of this semester than I could in a year at my normal college. There’s just no way to replicate the hands on experience we gain through this program.
Today we just finished writing up our Faculty Led Project papers. I worked with Kali under one of our guest professors, Michelle. Our project was to lead our classmates on two days of anole catching and sampling in the forest. We measured different dimensions of their bodies to see if they were able to adjust their morphologies based on what type of forest they were living in. We found that in one of the species they actually do adjust their leg length for the average perch diameter available to them.
Neither of us really understood how cool this was until we saw Michelle’s reaction as we ran the statistical tests together. She said that the results made her feel like she might want to go back and analyze some data she had collected in her own research, but hadn’t considered using yet. This is another great example of the quality of experience we get here. There’s no way I would be able to get this kind of experience at my college in the states.
It’s so important for us to obtain results like this and see how the can apply in the real world. It’s even more important to meet people like Michelle who are actively conducting research and answering real questions about the natural world. These kinds of interactions are what motivate me to stay interested in this field. Seeing real life application of research makes me so excited at the prospect of possibly conducting my own research at some point in the future.
As the program comes to an end, I can’t help but run through all the experiences we’ve had over the course of this trip. We were able to do and learn so many different things in such a short period of time. I never thought that there would be so much to do in such a small country, and we weren’t even able to get to everything. This trip will always be one of the coolest things I’ve ever done in my life and I plan on revisiting Costa Rica at least one more time in case I start to forget what a truly amazing place it is.