Hi! To quickly introduce myself, I am Mason Korman, a second year USF student studying Marine Biology! My biology 2 professor (who happened to also teach this class) mentioned a study abroad opportunity for a class called Tropical Marine Ecology and Conservation. Hearing this really piqued my interest because it sounded exactly like what I wanted to do with my career. I started looking into applying, thinking that getting all set to go abroad would be a walk in the park.
Most people get to hear about the most exciting part of studying abroad, that being the actual trip. Less so are those who hear about the mountains of paperwork, applications, and deadlines that are so essential to getting any student off the ground for a semester. Especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was much more work required than I originally expected to get into another country.
Curacao required for all people coming into the country, vaccinated or not: A digital immigration card, a passenger locator card, a negative PCR Covid test result no older than 3 days, and a pre-paid appointment for an antigen Covid test 3 days after you land. That’s not to mention the application to the course itself, the check-out dives you have to perform before the departure, the DAN course you need to finish to be properly certified as an AAUS Scientific Diver in Training, and paying for the program cost itself. Any scholarships you want to apply for need to be done far in advance to make sure that the funds are dispersed in time, and the flight should be bought far ahead of time to ensure a lower price and a seat on the plane.
All of that work was worth it just for that view from the plane as we sailed the sky over the West Indies.