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Student Nate Harlan gets an up-close look at hummingbirds as they feed in a wildlife preserve in Costa Rica.
While people often say they experienced
culture shock when visiting another country, a group of University of
Delaware students who studied abroad in Costa Rica this Winter Session
say the shock occurred when they got home.
My perspective changed on American culture, said Nate Harlan, a sophomore in the Associate in Arts Program, who was one of 13 students participating in the four-week study abroad program offered by the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology.
Everyone in Costa Rica was so friendly and so happy. Its a
different culture going to the U.S., where people are reserved and keep
to themselves. The culture shock was more coming home than arriving at
Students Trevor Hall and Jenny Schmidt had the same experience after
returning home from the Central American nation that is focused on
conservation of its natural resources.
Hall, an environmental science major, and Schmidt, a wildlife conservation major, who are both minoring in environmental humanities, described the ecotourism and community sustainability efforts in Costa Rica as eye opening.
I wish the rest of the world could be like this, Hall said.
The students arrived in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, on Jan.
4. During the course of the trip, they traveled to multiple sites across
the country, which is about the size of West Virginia. Costa Rica has a
greatly varied landscape and climate, so students were exposed to many
different environmental features as they studied its tropical ecology and plant and animal life.
Move this whole section up, swapping places with the section above it.
Emily Slingerland, who has a minor in environmental humanities in the College of Arts and Sciences, celebrates in Costa Rica after completing a hike.
During the trip, students completed day-to-day team-building
activities and researched Costa Rican bird diversity by completing bird
counts and creating statistical models. Students also led discussions on
relevant biodiversity issues. They completed coursework in tropical
biodiversity and conservation biology.
While in Nancit??, a research beach, students participated in a
project where they helped baby sea turtles make their voyage to the
ocean. Students also participated in a challenging hike up Death
Mountain, where they experienced drastic climatic changes from its base
to its peak.
There was a large demand for the long-running and popular study
abroad program, but only 13 spots were available. While many of the
students selected were majoring in wildlife ecology and conservation,
there were a variety of interests and backgrounds represented.
Harlan went on the Costa Rica trip because of his interests in
sustainable agriculture. He heard about the program from a friends
Like Hall and Schmidt, study abroad participant Emily Slingerland is
enrolled in the environmental humanities minor, a relatively new minor
in the Department of English. The 18-credit minor is targeted to two
groups of students: those majoring in the sciences who want to pursue a
deeper understanding of environmental issues and better means of
communication, and those who want to study science without majoring in
Slingerland, whose major is wildlife conservation, said that studying
environmental humanities allows me to expand my knowledge and learn
more as to how humanity and environment interact.
There is often a lot of conflict between the two, and this minor
will hopefully give me the knowledge to help
solve environmental problems in the future, she said.
Nate Harlan, a student in the Associate in Arts program, takes part in a bird-watching activity on a Costa Rican beach.
About the Associate in Arts program
UDs Associate in Arts program, operated by the College of Arts and
Sciences, is open only to Delawareans. Courses meet on campuses in New
Castle, Kent and Sussex counties and prepare students for a smooth
transition to the Newark campus for baccalaureate studies after
completion of the 60 credits needed for an associate degree.
Students in the program take regular University courses taught by UD
faculty, in a setting that offers small class sizes and close
interaction with faculty and advisers. As in Harlans case, the students
are able to participate in almost all activities and programs available
on the Newark campus, including study abroad, said faculty director
Our students are very aware that they can participate in study
abroad programs, and we have been fairly successful in getting them
enrolled, Bartley said. I take 15-18 students each year to Hawaii, and
I have had several Associate in Arts Program students [in those
We promote study abroad at our decision nights and at our new
student orientation functions, as well as in the classrooms. Basically,
Associate in Arts Program students can participate in just about any
activity on the Newark campus, in academics and extracurricular.
Harlan, who attends classes on the Wilmington campus, said the
program does a good job of informing students about events and
opportunities on the Newark campus and that he feels integrated into
that community. He is involved in various organizations, such as
Students for the Environment, a UD student-run group, and plans to
transition to the Newark campus next year to complete his bachelors