Alumni Spotlight: Sydney Cahill


Sydney Cahill is currently a junior in high school who enjoys swimming, reading, and conservation work.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program because I am passionate about the environment and have been since I was young. The program allowed me to participate in hands-on work in alleviating some of the effects of climate change with other people my age.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

We were given instructions on how to do an activity (i.e. fish identification, coral planting, and so on), but we were then allowed to independently complete the project with our other group members.

There was a nice balance of instruction without smothering attention or constant monitoring - we were expected to have a measure of responsibility.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Keep an open mind and try everything new!

Being abroad is an amazing experience, and to get the full impact of your program you have to be willing to give every activity your all.

It's really nice to let go of your inhibitions and just give something completely new to you a go. You will have more fun this way!

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

During my program, we typically woke up between 7-8am and ate breakfast as a group. During the day we had two main activities - one before lunch and one after.

Activities ranged from snorkeling to planting coral to kayaking to a lesson on marine life and conservation. We ate all meals together as a group, and we often had group discussions.

We spent a lot of time together playing games and bonding, which really improved group dynamics. We go to bed around 9 or 10pm, after a long day of physical activities.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

I was very nervous about making friends with my peers in the program with me. On the airplane I was terrified, but when I met my group I realized that all the members were kind, funny, and just as passionate about the environment.

I learned that putting myself out there and making an effort to connect with new people pays off - I made some friends on my trip that I hope to stay in contact with for years to come.

Is there anything you would have done different to prepare for your trip?

Pay more attention to your itinerary when packing! I followed the general list provided by Rustic Pathways, but overlooked the fact that, for example, I should probably bring more swim suits if I was to be in the water for most of the trip.

My main advice is to look closely through your trip guide and research the weather where you will be so you are adequately prepared to do all of your activities.