Name: Holli Behrens’15
Hometown: Delavan, Wis.
Where are you studying abroad? South Caicos, Turks & Caicos Islands, British West Indies, Caribbean.
What are the three most important things you packed in your suitcase? Why? The three most important things I packed were my scuba gear, sunscreen, and biodegradable soap. A major part of my education here is being in the crystal clear water observing the organisms underwater, sometimes as deep as 100 feet! I get to scuba dive twice a week and snorkel four to six times a week. Without my gear I would've missed out on swimming next to eagle rays, sharks, and sea turtles.
Sunscreen is also important because I am out in the sun for the majority of my day and there's nothing worse than putting on a wetsuit with a nasty sunburn. The third most important thing I packed was biodegradable soap. I am only allowed one fresh water shower a week, so I take salt water showers as often as possible. These are located right next to the beach so the water runs off into the ocean and biodegradable soap is the only environmentally friendly way to stay clean!
What is the most unexpected thing you have encountered so far during your off-campus study experience? The most unexpected thing I have encountered is the number of wild animals that aren't wild animals in the U.S. The first thing I noticed after landing in the airport was the wild dogs running around everywhere. Literally everywhere. They don't have any owners or anyone who takes care of them, so it’s a bit depressing sometimes. There's also wild horses and donkeys that roam around, oftentimes waking me up at the crack of dawn.
What is your favorite place in your host city/country? The conch wall. The field station I'm staying at is located right on the edge of a small cliff that overhangs the ocean and the conch wall is right at the edge. It is decorated with hundreds of conch shells, hence the name. There are various benches to sit on that look out over the aqua blue clear water. I sit here when I write in my journal, when I'm talking to friends or family on the phone, watch whales breaching, watch the sunsets, or simply just to relax and unwind from stressful days.
What is the best meal you’ve had abroad? There isn't much to eat out on the town, as this is a tiny island with a tiny population, but a restaurant/bar called Daryll's serves cracked conch. Cracked conch is basically deep fried conch. It's super chewy and flavorful! Conch is also the biggest fishery on the island.
What did you miss most from home/Beloit? My close friends, my parents, and especially my cats.
What has been your proudest/most exciting moment abroad? The most exciting moment abroad was also the most exciting moment of my life so far. I went on a normal dive, expecting to see the usual reef fish, coral, sponges, etc. My group and I swam to the edge of the continental shelf (where it turns into a right angle and drops from 60 feet to hundreds of feet) and went down the wall to about 100 feet. Here we saw two large reef sharks that swam around us and next to us, trying to figure out what we were. And if that wasn't enough, a school of 20 massive eagle rays gracefully swam beside us. It was so beautiful to watch them! Then, we went a little shallower and a sea turtle swam right up to my face and stared at me! I was so tempted to reach out and touch it, but that's against the rules. During all of this, I could also hear whales squealing--they sounded so happy. I never thought I'd do anything like this, and it truly is a dream come true.