Going on this trip to the Cook Islands, I am most looking forward to the overall experience I will be getting out being given this opportunity. First, I am not a very experienced traveler, so I feel like the traveling on this trip better prepares me for future endeavors where large traveling is required. Also, I am anticipating the “way of life” out of the islands. I cannot wait to just take in all of the societal norms of their culture, as well as be there for their 50th year anniversary of independence. It is an honor to be able to observe and be a part of such as significant celebration that many others will not get the chance to see. Likewise, I am excited to be doing research out there, especially as an undergraduate. I am very much looking forward to doing hands-on studies and being able to say that I did field work out on the Cook Islands. In addition, I will be taking this trip with one of my best friends; I am really excited to share this kind of opportunity with someone close because it will only make our friendship even stronger.
When thinking about the trip, I am curious to experience their culture. I am very inexperienced when it comes to foreign countries and their lifestyles; therefore, I am eager to be immersed in such a different culture for two straight weeks. I am interested to learn more about the marine protected area the Cook Islands established, too. It would be interesting to know how much the average resident there knows and cares about the MPA, as well as how involved they are in the MPA. Moreover, I am interested in learning about the dynamics of any research that they are trying to do on the islands that is not heavily influenced or involved with outside sources, such as our CSUCI group. I am curious to know if they are trying to do any analyses on local biotic and abiotic factors, even if it happens to be unorthodox or outdated methods.