Beaches. Surfing. Snorkeling through shipwrecks.
St. Joseph’s University, New York student couple Payton Cline and Gavin Antos enjoyed all that and more while studying abroad in Barbados this past spring semester.
“I was hesitant and completely wrote off (studying abroad) at first, but looking back on it, I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” said Cline of Holtsville. “It was one of the best experiences I could ever have had.”
While Cline and Antos have traveled abroad with their families in the past, it was their first time leaving the country on their own.
“You’re going out past your comfort zone, and it’s a lot of work, but it’s definitely worth it,” said Antos, an East Patchogue resident.
Cline and Antos, child study majors at the Long Island Campus who expect to graduate in 2024 and 2025, respectively, are excited about the different ways they can implement what they learned at the University of West Indies at Cave Hill, Barbados, into their future classrooms.
“As a child study major, it was cool learning things about their culture,” said Cline, who has a concentration in speech and who took courses on Caribbean popular music, theater, Spanish and public speaking.
Antos, who also took the music and Spanish courses in addition to classes on world history and literature, was most interested in their classrooms’ laidback environment.
“By experiencing how they teach, there are things that I took away that I want to use in the future,” said Antos, who has a concentration in mathematics. “Their teaching style was different there than here, which I liked. There were a lot less assignments, and the relationship between the students and teachers was less formal.”
Cline elaborated, explaining that they emphasized the idea of experience over lectures.
“There’s a lot less textbook work, and you kind of rely on each other more, which was really cool,” she said. “That’s an aspect I think would be really cool to bring back into a classroom as a future teacher. They also brought a lot of elements from nature into the classroom, which I liked.”
The Best Parts of Being in Barbados
When trying to decide where they’d want to spend a semester abroad, Cline’s father suggested they look into Barbados, where he and Cline’s mom had gone more than 20 years ago. Antos, who was looking for a tropical place to skip the winter, agreed it would be a good place to go.
“I think my favorite part of being in Barbados would be snorkeling at the shipwrecks,” said Antos, who’s gone snorkeling before, but said it was much better there than anywhere else he’s been. “It was everything you’d think about for a tropical island — the water was crystal clear, there were fish all around, sea turtles and sea urchins. That was really cool.”
Cline said her favorite part was “definitely the surfing” — a sport she’s been enjoying since she was 7, and one that Antos picked up at 10.
They also enjoyed frequent trips to the beach (which was a five-minute walk from the University), hiking, checking out local restaurants, attending a Friday Night Fish Fry and exploring the island in general. Both shared that they gained a lot of independence through the experience.
“This was a great way to travel the world and see different places while still getting college credit,” Cline said.
Antos cited the affordability of the trip.
“This was much cheaper than traveling on my own, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to do this any other time,” he said. “I got to be there for four months, so I didn’t feel like a tourist; it was more like I was living there.”
Cline and Antos agree they’d like to study abroad again if they can.
“This is kind of like our only time to be able to do something like this — for that cheap and that long,” Cline said.