You would think by having a waterproof, shockproof camera that your pictures would be safe. Well, not from a little girl who doesn’t read English. With the pressing of just a few buttons she managed to delete the 1,000 pictures documenting a month of my time in Nicaragua. Luckily, I found a program to retrieve photos that have been deleted from a memory card and I am thankful that, in my whole summer of traveling, that incident was the closest thing that could be considered a disaster.
All of this gave me great, real-world experience related to my degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering. I was able to gain construction skills, learn surveying skills and explore theories related to hydrology, and I plan to continue to analyze the data I collected over the next semester. It also gave me invaluable experience practicing my Spanish speaking skills with my host family and many amazing Nicaraguan people.
One of these amazing people is the little girl I mentioned previously. Her name is Maider and she became my best friend this summer. The nights were spent playing cards or teaching her how to make friendship bracelets. During the days that she didn’t go to school, she would help me shovel sand or pick up small rocks to help build the bridge. As we did this we would make up riddles to each other. One day she took me to her friend’s birthday party where I was able to meet many of the community members. Everybody was extremely friendly and would offer food even if you had just eaten lunch. At this party I was forced to take a swing at the piñata, which had to be done while dancing to a mariachi band. The last night I was in Jucuapa Occidental, Maider decided she would do my makeup. I ended up with a pale face, rosy red cheeks, globs of lip gloss and bright turquoise eyelids.
Nicole's trip abroad was made possible through a Stanley Undergraduate Award for International Research. The award is given annually to outstanding University of Iowa undergraduates for the pursuit of learning activities in international studies that are not available on the UI campus. Learn more.