Undergraduate Student Blog, Speaking of Princeton

Undergraduate Student Blog

Author: Cricket Gullickson ’15

Rio, Wisconsin • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology View Profile

Anchors Aweigh!

A semester abroad

A necklace with an anchor pendant
A necklace I received from a good friend before I left, with a card that read: “Anchors Away – Wear this necklace and may you experience amazing adventures and the joys of new beginnings. Away you go!”

 

Hello from Kenya!

I can hardly believe that I’m here. Even a year ago, I never imagined myself here, but I am so happy to be in this beautiful country. This semester, I’m studying abroad through the department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, taking courses in ecology, animal behavior, and conservation. It’s a small program that brings together Princeton and Columbia students at the Mpala Research Centre near Nanyuki, Kenya. Over the course of the semester, we will be taking four three-week courses, with a week-long spring break during which most of us will climb Mt. Kenya. I think that in many ways this is a very unique study abroad experience—it is a small program designed to expose students to the realities of fieldwork and experimental development. We are living at a research center with our professors, and we are actively engaged in designing experiments, carrying out data collection and analysis, and presenting our findings. It’s an experience that is so unlike any that I have had previously.

Among the highlights so far:

  • Seeing cheetahs, zebras, giraffes, and elephants up close and personal
  • Getting to know my fellow classmates, who are among the most incredible people I’ve met at Princeton
  • Getting to know my professors super well, and finding out that they are really fun and interesting and inspiring individuals
  • Discussing papers about African ecosystems with the person who wrote them in the place they were written
  • Eating the best mangoes I’ve ever had at every meal
  • Learning important phrases in Swahili (things like, “Can I have more mango please?”)

It was difficult for me to decide to study abroad, but I decided to go because I thought this would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore my interests, visit in a new country (and continent!), and learn about myself. I doubt very much that I will ever again have the time and financial support to live in Kenya for three months, and although I do miss being on campus, I know this will be one of my most enriching semesters at Princeton. Indeed, I think the opportunities and support that Princeton provides for study abroad are incredible. If you’re interested in learning more, you should definitely check out the International Internship Program, Bridge Year Program, Global Seminars, and fellowship opportunities.

I will do my best to keep you updated on my adventures.

 

Kenya study abroad students on the top of Moo Kenya
A group of us after a morning hike to the highest point at Mpala ranch

A Grevy's zebra
A Grevy's zebra we saw during a game drive as part of our Biology of African Ecosystems course