"I just feel like we're put on Earth to live, like explore it because there's so much to the world. And we're here to play our role, find our purpose... I wanted to see it in person." (Jasmine, Episode 44)
(*Sidenote: I forgot to mention that I and Young, Gifted and Abroad were featured on a book blog called "Life of a Female Bibliophile" in July! Click here to read the Q&A interview!*)
I met today's guest via Instagram. Back when Alhia from episode 35 was accepting applications for her study abroad scholarship (Diverse International Women of Color), Jasmine Rainer had apparently contacted her about the scholarship. Then, not too long after I released my interview with Alhia, Jasmine messaged me asking if she could be on the podcast to talk about a study abroad experience that she'd just had. And here we are today.
Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia and currently a rising sophomore at Georgia State University, Jasmine is fun-loving and also incredibly hard-working. Since graduating from high school in 2018, she's basically been taking classes non-stop. A scholarship program that she's in had her starting early at GSU just two weeks after high school graduation, and after a short one-month break that summer came the fall and spring semesters of her freshman year of college. Then in the late spring of 2019 came her Maymester, a mini-semester during the month of May. When I spoke to her in June, she was in the middle of a brief break before starting summer classes. But her incredibly busy first year wasn't without some enjoyable and eye-opening experiences. Case in point, for her Maymester Jasmine took an environmental science course to get some science credits, and that course had her spending a week in The Bahamas.
Jasmine stayed in Nassau with her 10 classmates and their professor, and as a group they spent much of their days doing water analysis in various parts of New Providence island. In every area of water they went in, they analyzed the water's contamination level and where said contamination was coming from. Though the course had been open to anyone, coincidentally all the people in Jasmine's group (including the professor) were women. They had the added advantage that said professor was Bahamian herself, and her insight helped them adapt more easily.
When not doing projects related to the course, Jasmine got to swim in the ocean, visit a cave and a forest, go scuba diving to see underwater sculptures, swim with pigs (yes, actual pigs) on Rose Island, visit the straw market, and take advantage of The Bahamas' lower drinking age (she was legally able to drink there even though she's a minor back home). As a hospitality and tourism management major, she also went out of her way to network with local people working in the tourism industry when she could. And in certain instances, her studies actually informed her leisure activities. Jasmine told me one hilarious story in particular about how, after having already eaten conch a couple of times during her stay, a case study made her realize that she'd been eating a type of sea snail.
"You find comfortability out of your comfort zone"
One could say that it took a considerable amount of decisiveness and courage for Jasmine to participate in an experience like this. She had spent her whole life in Atlanta, and while her family was supportive, her mom and sisters expressed some concern for Jasmine's safety. Flying to the Bahamas was even her first time on a plane, so everything about this trip was new!
Sure, some excursions where more intimidating than others, and she sometimes had to psych herself up to go swimming or diving (being from a landlocked city like Atlanta means she's not completely comfortable in water yet). But Jasmine's desire to experience things for herself rather than making decisions based off of what others had said, that desire kept winning out. Now she wholeheartedly believes that, "You find comfortability out of your comfort zone when you're studying abroad." Plus, as someone who doesn't think the travel industry is going anywhere and wants a career that will take her worldwide, for her The Bahamas was only the beginning.
Since returning to Atlanta, Jasmine has vowed to herself that she will study abroad during every academic year she has left, and Jamaica, Ghana, or a country where she can learn a less commonly taught language are all high on her list of places to go next. When I spoke to her she was also looking forward to volunteering as a student ambassador for incoming international students during the summer. She's set to earn her Associate's degree in May 2020 and is leaning toward continuing for her Bachelor's, which would allow her more time to map out her future and take advantage of study abroad opportunities. As she enters her sophomore year in college, here's to hoping that she gets to to explore as much as she wants to explore! Jasmine can be found on Instagram (@boujaeeee) and on Twitter (@boujaeeee).
Be sure to listen to this episode, "Conch Nachos & Come Ups (THE BAHAMAS)" for more! And don't forget to check out the resource list below!
GSU School of Hospitality academic programs (includes study abroad options)
Bahamas: Environmental Science Without Borders (GSU program)
Sandy Toes (swimming with pigs on Rose Island)
Danielle G. is the creator and host of Young, Gifted and Abroad. You can find her other writings at DeelaSees.com.