The Galapagos Islands: An Incredible Journey

Galapagos 2014 Featured
University of Miami students in the Galapagos Islands

It was like being
On another planet

It was three weeks. But it went by in a flash. Fourteen students and two professors, in the 2014 University of Miami study abroad expedition to the Galapagos Islands.

Here, as you scroll down, you will see photographs of the students and read what the Galapagos experience was like for them.

But first a quick look at what we did on the trip.

We started out at the Panama Canal. Then we flew to Ecuador, which governs the Galapagos Islands, and spent a day in the largest city, Guayaquil.

We went to a downtown park filled with iguanas and learned that Guayaquil was the first place in Ecuador to declare independence from Spain. We learned that the Panama Hat was really invented in Ecuador and, of course, we went shopping for Panama Hats.

Then we were off to the exotic islands that Herman Melville of Moby Dick fame called the Enchanted Islands. We met people from all over the world who, like us, had come to see what Charles Darwin saw hundreds of years ago as he was developing his theories of evolution: iguanas that swim and can hold their breath for up to 45 minutes, giant tortoises that look like big, curvaceous pirate’s chests, colonies of sea lions, swarms of finches and a wonderful kind of bird with bright blue feet and a piercing whistle called the blue-footed booby.

We hit the beaches and hiked on highland ridges, through chilly, drippy caves and up along the rim of a volcanic crater that had long ago filled with rain and become a fresh water lake.

We interviewed wild life experts, boat captains, doctors, dentists, school teachers, restaurateurs and lots of other people, many of them related to research we’d done in Miami before the trip. We wrote articles and blogs, collected the sounds of the islands on H2 Zoom recorders and took stacks of photographs. We put it all together for publication on, the University of Miami’s environmental magazine online that you’re now reading.

Here is a look at the students and their thoughts on the Galapagos Experience:

“I am going to be bragging about this experience to my children and my grandchildren. I can never imagine going on another trip that was as amazing as the Galapagos” – Christopher Privette, Marine Science, Junior

Christopher Privette, blue shorts

Christopher Privette, center
“Being in the Galapagos was like being on another planet, with the addition of amazing people from Miami and unforgettable sights and sounds. The idea of sustainable tourism that the people of the Galapagos have adopted is so necessary and relevant to the state of the world’s environment” – Mira Shah, Health Studies, Sophomore

Mira Shaw, left

Mira Shah, center
“The Galapagos gave me the opportunity to fine tune and improve my writing in one of the most beautiful places in the world” – Griffin Sher, Marine Affairs, Senior

Griffin Sher, left

Griffin Sher, left
“In a matter of 18 days, this experience brought 16 very special people together with the people of the Galapagos. This trip inspired me to listen to the sounds, the sights and the people around me. I saw animals that many will never get the chance to see, learned things that I would never have known about and brought back stories that I will never tire of telling” – Gabriella Canal, Journalism, Junior

Gabriella Canal, center

Gabriella Canal, center
“The most interesting three weeks of my life” – Sam Noddle, Finance, Junior

Sam Noddle, center

Sam Noddle
“No matter what I do in my life, I will never again experience something as magical as the nature of the Galapagos” – Leah Colucci,Neuroscience, Sophomore

Leah Colucci, orange

Leah Colucci, left
“It was truly the most life changing trip I have ever been on. My three goals for the trip were to experience the Galapagos in every aspect, improve my writing, and make new life-long friends. The Galapagos exceeded every one of my goals and expectations” – Steven Elenberg, Media Management, Senior

Steven Elenberg, right

Steven Elenberg, far right
“It was awesome! The Galapagos was a place where I could experience as much nature and as many wild animals as I could imagine!” – Rongrong Wu, Biology, Junior

Rongrong Wu

Rongrong Wu
“Going to the Galapagos was life changing. The people that I met through the trip have impacted me greatly as a student and as a person” – Jane McKee, Music Business, Junior

Jane McKee, left

Jane Mckee, center
“The Galapagos was an incredible journey that I’m grateful to have been a part of. It pushed me to dive out of my comfort zone and seize every opportunity to try something new. The memories of the great company we kept and the beauty of the islands will last a life time” – Kelsey Guilford, Philosophy, St. Johns University

Kelsey Guilford, center

Kelsey Guilford, purple
“The Galapagos gave me a whole new appreciation for what I have, while making me long for the immersion in nature that I don’t have in Miami. I can’t step out of my house and walk to the beach while watching those extraordinary animals at every turn. When will I ever be swimming with sea lions again?” – Lisa Diaz, Marine Science, Sophomore

Lisa Diaz, right

Lisa Diaz, center right
“Obviously the place is amazing. The scenery, the wildlife, the local culture are all killer. But the more important education is with the people you meet, the experiences. It was about breaking out of my comfort zone and learning to coexist and thrive together” – Nick Sirio, English, Sophomore

Nick Sirio

Nick Sirio, far right
Leaders of the Galapagos Summer Abroad Expedition

Professor Colby Leider

Professor Joseph B. Treaster

Professor Joseph B. Treaster

Professor Colby Leider

The Galapagos Gang of 2014

Showing their University of Miami spirit, throwing the U


The photos of Gabriella Canal at a Foosball table, Jane McKee photographing a giant Galapagos tortoise and of Professor Joseph B. Treaster, framed by the sea and the sky, are by Nick Sirio; all other photos are by Joseph B. Treaster.

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