Hello, my name is Caleb Crawford and I recently participated in a study abroad course that took place on the Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao. The course was Tropical Marine Ecology and Conservation in Curaçao and it was one of the most exciting experiences of my life. Prior to leaving for the trip, there were many requirements to be met. Aside from the country’s various COVID-19 requirements, since we were going to be scuba diving, each of us had to be at least open water diver certified. We also had to participate in two days of diving with the USF diving safety officer Ben Meister. In addition to this we were required to take an online safety course.
We had two flights to catch to finally arrive in Curaçao, one from Tampa to Miami, and then one from Miami to Curaçao. The second flight was around 2 and a half hours long and was over water the entire time. The second flight was beautiful and I remember looking out and seeing various islands and the scenery was just breathtaking. After arriving, going through customs was not as bad as I thought it was going to be. I simply handed over my passport and my COVID-19 paperwork and the man asked what my purpose of visiting their country was, to which I simply replied with “study abroad.”
Upon arrival in Curaçao, our professor picked us up at the Hato Airport and drove us to our place of stay at the CARMABI(Caribbean Research and Management of Biodiversity) Foundation. We were right next to the water and we immediately went for a swim once we had gotten settled in. It felt surreal, I had never seen such pretty water before and I felt like I was in paradise. There was coral everywhere, something that I had not previously witnessed in the wild before, and I look forward to sharing more about my trip with you all!