Pre- Departure Bits and Pieces

I begin my journey to Madagascar in just two short days. I have been dreaming about this adventure for an entire year. Now that it is approaching so rapidly, the reality of it is starting to set in. I have traveled abroad before. I spent a semester in Siena, Italy after I graduated high school, but I can not even begin to compare my feelings then to what I feel now. I have received many comments from those around me such as, “Madagascar!?!? Why would you want to go there?” or “Yeah, I hear there are a million diseases you can catch over there, good luck” or my personal favorite “You couldn’t pay me enough money to get on a plane these days.” Although, I am always one to welcome feedback whatever form it may come in, I think that I could have survived just fine without these opinions.

The fact of the matter is that Madagascar would have never crossed my mind if I had not stepped in to Patricia Wright’s lecture last spring. She is a primatologist, conservationist, anthropologist, and a professor at SUNY Stony brook. I spoke with her after the lecture and told her that I was a psychology student and was deeply interested in her study abroad program in Madagascar. She was extremely encouraging and told me that if I had any interest in cross- cultural comparisons in psychology, I may be able to form some type of research while being there. I was drawn to the fact that she was interested in letting me create my own path during my time abroad and in the end this is what made me decide to go for it.

My feelings have fluctuated from feeling like my heart is on fire with excitement to feeling absolutely terrified. I think that this is pretty normal and if not, I have a 25 hour flight to work it all out. I feel so unbelievable blessed and I am ready to immerse myself within this beautiful culture.

My name is Monica Schneider and I am a senior psychology major with a minor in disaster studies. My study abroad program is through SUNY Stony Brook and it is in Madagascar. My program lasts for 5 weeks and I will be staying at the Centre Val Bio research station in Ranomafana National Park.

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