Andria Burdick believes it’s important to try new things. A few years ago, she never would’ve guessed she’d be hunting insects and arachnids, eating traditional Nicaraguan food and hiking a volcano in one day. She did all that and more during her recent study abroad experience in Nicaragua; a trip that has had a profound impact on her life already.
A junior from Loveland, Colorado, Burdick is majoring in both criminal justice and chemistry and minoring in biology. Her scientific interests led her to sign up for the SUU Nicaragua study abroad experience which was designed for geology and biology students. The group spent ten days in May traveling the country to learn about landscape and animal life.
During the trip, students engaged in hiking, kayaking, visiting wildlife reserves and spending time in urban areas. For Burdick, some of her favorite experiences included interacting with locals. One of those experiences happened on her last day in Nicaragua when the group had the opportunity to join with children playing soccer in the park.
“We were thrilled to challenge them in a match,” Burdick said. “It was so much fun to play with those kids. They have a huge passion for the sport and their faces were filled with joy.”
According to Burdick, the most important thing she learned on her trip was how much she’s grown during her time in college. She was surprised by her willingness to try new food, be around insects and join in on impromptu adventures like horseback riding and rope swinging over a river.
“College is a time for growth and self-discovery,” said Burdick, “and there is no better way to measure that growth than to immerse yourself in a foreign culture.”
Burdick strongly recommends study abroad for every student. Although it may be more comfortable staying at home, she believes that your learning reaches a new depth when you remove yourself from what’s comfortable.
“Study abroad teaches what it means to be a global citizen; you see how your life and actions fit into a larger scale and become a part of something bigger,” said Burdick. “That's not possible to achieve while watching Netflix on your couch. You must experience it for yourself.”
Spending time in a third-world country helped her discover a new perspective on life and understand better how the United States impacts other countries in the world. She knows this new knowledge will help her better understand other ideas and cultures.
“Many people in Nicaragua live in shacks made of whatever materials are available and sell goods on the street trying to put food on their table,” explained Burdick. “Growing up, I was fortunate enough to not have to worry about when my next meal was coming.”
In the future, Burdick’s dream is to become a government agent. By being immersed in another country outside of the United States, Burdick feels like she’s been able to gain a new appreciation and understanding of poverty, gratitude and the struggle to survive, which she hopes to apply to her actions as a future federal agent.