Departing To Union Island – Coral Study

Hello all! My name is Stephanie Medo and in four days I will be departing for my study abroad course in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. As the trip approaches, I am feeling emotions of excitement and nervousness. I have been preparing for this course since December 2021 and I cannot believe that the time has finally come to depart. I will be in the Caribbean for two weeks taking the Tropical Marine Ecology and Conservation course.

During the semester of Spring 2022 I fell in love with the underwater world as I learned scuba diving and was even more stoked to take my course in the Caribbean. My professor has provided all students with packing checklists and a daily itinerary. Our days will be spent diving twice in the morning identifying different corals, fish and invertebrates. We will be analyzing our collected data in the evenings and exploring the small island we will call home for two weeks. It has taken quite a while to prepare for this course, so far, I have enjoyed every minute of it, and I know it will bring awesome opportunities in my future. Let me elaborate more on the details.

In order to take this course, you have to have the prerequisite of Biology II and be a scientific diver with USF. To become a scientific diver with USF you must be, at minimum, an open water scuba diver. Once this is complete you will need to pass a series of check out dives and swim tests with USF’s diving safety officer. USF does a great job of giving you detailed information on the steps to complete to become a scientific diver. I’m going to be honest, I was very overwhelmed when first presented with the information. I was wondering if I would have enough time to complete all my certifications, would I be able to pass the swim test? Or would I even enjoy scuba diving? I was presented with two options, complete all the certifications on my own or take a scientific diving course with USF. There are two scientific diving professors on campus and luckily one had an opening. The course provided me with all the books to read on scuba diving and every certification I needed, plus more. Throughout the course I was able to get First Aid and CPR certified, Nitrox certified and eventually became a Rescue Diver. The course involved diving every weekend and making sure we had the skills to be able to conduct surveys underwater.

As the trip approaches, I’m slowly getting my luggage together making sure I secure all my scuba gear and have enough island clothing to get me through the trip. There have been quite a few health documentations to get ready beforehand, all with the help and guidance of my professor. In addition, I will need a negative Covid test 72 hours before arriving, which has become a standard when travelling internationally. My appointment is set and I will be arriving at the Tampa airport bright and early at 5:00 AM. I am currently in a group chat with my peers as we compare documentations and luggage set ups. I will be travelling with multiple classmates, some I will be meeting for the first time. I can not wait to make new memories, friends, and more dives!

Securing my scuba gear
Ready for departure

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