Student describes study abroad experience
By Shelley Rodriguez
Bridge Staff Writer
Published March 30, 2020
Attracted to its affordability, relevance to her major and lo-cation, one student was convinced a study abroad to Azerbaijan was the trip for her.
Texas A&M International University engineering major Denisse Campos expected this summer 2019 journey to be the trip of a lifetime.
“I was grateful for the first half,” Campos said.
At first, she enjoyed being in a different part of the world. After all, Baku, capital of Azerbaijan, was nothing like Campos’ home country.
“[Being a tourist] was pretty nice … the architecture was so modern … a lot of the buildings were unique and you don’t get to see that a lot here in the United States,” she said.
However, the wonder faded later in the trip. Campos said a week of false accusations, high tension and busy work were on her list of reasons to dislike her experience.
“Yeah, there was drama,” she said. Referencing an incident when the event coordinator called the group out for being distracted during one of the meetings. “We didn’t like the event coordinator; we just weren’t on the same page after that.”
The weekend after did not serve as relaxation to the students, she said, due to an excursion to a village five hours away.
“We all just wanted to stay in the hotel because you’re just re-ally tired at this point, like, a week of meetings with no breaks … but we can’t refuse [the school]. We have to go.”
At first, the excursion began the same way as the study abroad trip. This left Campos in awe of the views she had of her new surroundings. She thought to herself, “[I] could live here forever.”
On the second day of the excursion, an accident occurred that would stay with Campos to this day.
“It was the worst way you could experience a study abroad trip,” Campos recalled.
While going to visit the historic palace of Sheki, strong winds caused one of the massive tree branches of a nearly 500-year-old Oriental plane, or Old World sycamore, tree to come down on 19 tourists visiting that day.
“[The breaking branch] was really loud, everyone turned their heads to see where it came from,” Campos said. “Then you just hear multiple cracks happen at the same time and then you see … this huge branch coming down, falling … I knew there were people around that tree.”
Immediately knowing the intensity of the situation, Campos believed she had no choice but to flee the scene for her safety. As she did, she only stopped to wait for her study-abroad classmates.
“I hear a lot of people running, a lot of people screaming … and it was just pure chaos.”
The coordinator listened to the students and they went back to the city, back to their hotel and were given a day to rest.