Classes in the Caribbean

Getting away while getting things done

Megan Bolton

Morpheus is standing in front of you with his hands outstretched. In one hand is a red pill, in the other a blue.

The red pill will take you to a classroom where you sit for one to six hours studying something potentially outside of your major, sandwiched between the guy who’s way too into the subject and the girl who’s drooling on her textbook. The blue pill takes you on an island adventure to exotic locations, studying birds as they fly overhead, playing in tropical waterfalls, snorkeling in the warm Caribbean waters, taking pictures as you lounge in a hammock over a white sandy beach, chowing down on delicious traditional Central American food. Now who in their right mind would choose the red pill?

Unfortunately, many people do! Either because they didn’t know the blue pill was an option, or because they think it’s a financially impossible. Every two years, Union College offers students a blue pill—a study tour through Central America. Students travel through Panama, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica while getting class credits in two of three classes offered: Ornithology, Photography, or Travel Literature. So yeah, it’s not all fun and games, but you’re getting six credit hours in a fraction of the time you would at school—just 18 days—all for $2,995! I know, I know that sounds like a lot of money, but hear me out.

First, the money doesn’t have to be all out of pocket, you can work with your financial plan here at Union to pay for it. Secondly, it costs about the same to take these classes on campus. And lastly, you learn so much more than just photography, ornithology, or travel writing while you’re there. “We've found that students that because of the tuition and the airfare… they get all bundled up in that $3000, but the travel experience with a group—that's the part that's really hard to quantify”, says Dr. Robison, Professor of English.

What do students have to say?

“I highly recommend it for all majors and people. Do it now! [It] only happens every other year. And if you're looking to get a science, literature, or arts credit out of the way, it’s the best way to do it” states Ben Holms, a senior communication student.

Finally, Melissa Ratter, junior language arts education student says “I would totally recommend it for everyone! It's really a once in a lifetime experience that shouldn't be missed. I mean you get to experience a whole new culture while you get class credit!”

So get interested! Ask questions! To find out more information, talk to Dr. Utt in the Krueger center, Dr. Robison in the Humanities department, or Mr. Bruce Forbes in Engel Hall. The next trip is May 11-29, 2015—there’s still time!

Megan is a junior studying communication.