An Island Built on Principle
Approaching the island of Barbados by air at 10,000 feet, was like staring at the canvas of a masterpiece. My eyes raced to fill in the details of the world that would soon surround me. The water in the ocean was a mix of colors: neon blue, deep navy, and white crests of waves that appeared to slowly inch towards the shore from the plane. When we landed, I was on a mission to get through customs as quickly as possible and start exploring island life. The Bajans I encountered on my way to the customs line had a melodic accent that put a smile on my face. The smile didn’t stay long.
While waiting for the customs line to proceed, my backpack felt noticeably lighter. My heart sank when it hit me: I had left another bag with my toiletries, socks, and underwear in the overhead compartment on the airplane. I cut back through customs and tried to find my way back to the tarmac where I hoped the plan was still parked. I had to be cautious because it was a foreign country and I was aware of the strict security guidelines at U.S. Airports. An employee of the airline approached me and asked “can I help you hun?” After hearing my story, she walked out to the plane and returned a few minutes later with a big smile on her face waving at me, holding out my bag in her hand.
With each adventure or adversity you encounter studying abroad, you are forced outside your comfort zone. Obstacles are common in unfamiliar territories, and at times it seems inevitable something will go wrong. Unplanned events, hiccups in life abroad, become a part of the adventure. Class was interrupted one day when a monkey was pounding on the window at our school. We took a break for a minute to observe the monkey’s antics.
Students considering studying abroad in Barbados can expect a taste of island life. My expectations of the island were based on a visit to another third world country in Caribbean. I couldn’t have been more wrong: Bajans kept the island immaculately clean and they were very proud of their colorful cultural heritage. Barbados was a British colony until 1961, and elements of British society still appear through the form of mandatory school uniforms and proper attire, even at the beach. The Bajan culture also placed a heavy emphasis on schooling, which was reflected in the country’s 97% literacy rate.
Whether you choose to study in Barbados or Brazil, learning a different culture will broaden your perspective of the world. Students who study abroad become more knowledgeable in this regard, they are conditioned to face difficult challenges in life and move forward knowing things will work out in the end. It’s the Caribbean mantra: “don’t worry, be happy.”
Students from Washburn and the University of the West Indies explore Gun Hill Signal Station, a historic lookout point for ships approaching Barbados.
Barbados has two coastlines: one faces the calm waters of the Caribbean Sea (pictured above) while the other faces the choppy waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
Steep cliffs of East Barbados face the Atlantic Ocean, hold on tight.
The green monkeys of Barbados can be found throughout the island, they're known for their mischievous behavior.
Barbados has a multinational cultural heritage, developed under the influence of England. Throughout the island you will find formal British culture mixed with Bajan flare.