Hello everybody! Welcome to my study abroad blog. My name is Ryan, and I will be keeping you updated about my education and extracurricular experiences in the great country of Barbados. Before I delve into why and how I chose such a location, let me give you a brief introduction of who I am: I am a junior at the University of Richmond, and I’m majoring in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing. I’ve done a little bit of everything at UR: I was on the crew team for one semester, ran the Entrepreneurship Club for awhile, and recently helped to bring back the Theta Chi fraternity on campus. I had a part-time job working at ETC (the school’s convenience store) as well, and my hobbies on campus include hitting the gym and spending far too much time in D-Hall. I hail from the best state in the country, New Jersey, and live in the best part of it: the Jersey Shore.
When I told people I was studying abroad in Barbados, I usually received one of two responses: “Well, someone’s gotta do it” and “I hate you!”. Both confirmed that I had made a good choice. Upon researching my study abroad options as a business major, I had originally narrowed down my choices to Thailand and Australia. But something inside me somehow knew I wanted to study where most people vacation, so when I stumbled upon the University of the West Indies in Barbados, I quickly shifted that location to top priority. At first, my only focus was on the fact that it was a tropical paradise, but upon learning about the country, I discovered it is much culturally and geographically richer than that.
Yes, Barbados has some of the top beaches in the world, with a climate that most people would kill for, but it’s also a fascinating example of a Caribbean nation which emerged and developed virtually free of imperial conflict. Originally inhabited by the Arawak and Carib indigeneous peoples, it was later claimed for the British crown, which maintained control of the country until Barbados’s independence in 1966. Benefitting from a peaceful past and economic contributions from the British empire and Jewish immigrants, Barbados has become a model for stability and prosperity in the West Indies. It has a 98% literacy rate, and boasts flourishing tourism, finance, and sugarcane industries.
The University of the West Indies has three campuses, located in Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Barbados. The Cave Hill campus in Barbados was established in 1963, and the University as a whole has produced many of the region’s recent prime ministers and industry leaders. I managed to secure a single room on campus, which was a big surprise, considering they only house around a couple hundred students. I’ll be taking Introduction to Psychology, Introduction to Caribbean Politics, The Atlantic World: 1600-1800, and International Tourism as my one business class.
To be honest, I still can’t believe that I’ll be on a plane to Barbados in four days and staying for four months. I’ve read Globetrotter’s travel guide on Barbados front to back, but I don’t think I’ll really be able to wrap my head around what it’s like down there until I experience it for myself. But in the meantime, I think I’ll go pack my swimsuit and some flip flops.