Skip to main content

Education Abroad Student Spotlight: Madagascar!

Three individuals smile at the camera
Name: Zander Gallutia
Major: Anthropology Major, ASL Minor
Class year: Junior
Hometown: Nashville, Tennessee
Describe your Education Abroad program(s):
Our programs, officially listed as Madagascar Advanced Primate Ecology and Madagascar Advanced Primate Method, were designed at their surface to be an intensive and in-depth practice of primate field methods, even more than the Primate Field School. These programs allowed us to get in an unprotected study area, free range and absent of close human proximity, and study wild lemurs in their natural environment. Upon further involvement with the programs, however, it became much more than that; it also became about culture, linguistics, and consuming foreign experiences.
Is this a good program for other students in your major? Why/why not?
Totally! If you can do it, do it. No matter the subdivision of anthropology that you focus on, there's something for you to learn in anthropology as a whole by taking this course. If you want to be holistically anthropological, this program also forces you to do so by having a surprisingly low student count. By doing so, you are forced to get involved with the culture, learn about customs, and develop your language-learning skills.
Was this your first time abroad? If not, what other countries had you previously traveled to?
This was my first time abroad! Before I left the United States, the farthest I've traveled was to San Diego.
How do you feel that you benefited from studying abroad?
I definitely learned more about the world outside of the United States, including how to develop questions regarding cultural customs, linguistics, and practices. I learned Malagasy language to an intermediate level (according to my instructor). I learned what it felt like to be a foreigner, allowing me an empathetic and new perspective to those in my native country who are foreigners. I also learned how privileged I am considering all of my demographics, and am able to recognize the benefits and detriments of living in either country.
How do you think this experience will impact your future plans?
The largest takeaway from my trip is that I now have a clearer view of what I hope to achieve as an aspiring anthropologist. While I joined the anthropology program determined to focus on the primatological aspect of anthropology, I now developed a newer holistic appreciation that still focuses on primatology, but further involves culture; ethnoprimatology. I would definitely like to travel more in the future to further pursue work in ethnoprimatology, I just need to figure out where.
How did the experience differ from your expectations?
Honestly, there was not much of a change from experience to expectations. I left with an open mind, and returned with a happy one. I supposed I missed my family and friends a lot more than I thought I would, though.
Favorite thing about studying abroad?
For me, it was learning Malagasy. I liked a lot of things about the trip and had a blast studying field methods and growing accustomed to the culture, but learning Malagasy was a ton of fun. A lot of Malagasy people were surprised and appreciative that a foreigner was learning the language, and every time that they were appreciative, I was happy. It's my largest motivation for learning languages.
Suggestions for future students?
Just make sure to enjoy yourself. For many people, studying abroad feels like a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and it should be treated as if it is. While I was on my trip, I had a lot of regret because I felt as if I was missing out on summer vacation. However, you'll have plenty of time in the future for many more vacations, or maybe, many more times to study abroad.
Anything you'd like to add?
Love yourself! Also, if you need any assistance with understanding course material, please come to the Student Success Center in the library (Room 106D). All of us are super friendly and would be more than happy to help you out!
Published on September 05, 2023

Published on September 07, 2023

Open /*deleted href=#openmobile*/