Santiago, Dominican Republic: My Top 5

Paige Pribonic is a student at Clemson University and an ISA Featured Blogger. Paige is currently studying abroad and participating in service-learning with ISA in Santiago, Dominican Republic.

Holding starfish during our ISA excursion to Isla Saona

With only four weeks left before I leave the Dominican Republic, I think it’s time for a list of the five most impressionable things from my time here! So here goes.

1. The Beaches

I guess this had to be number 1, because the beaches are what everyone thinks of first when they think of the Dominican Republic. The beaches are out of a postcard, with white sand and clear aquamarine water. We’ve had ISA excursions to Puerto Plata and Isla Saona, and it’s only a 2-hour bus ride to the gorgeous beach of Sosúa.

2. The Poverty

This probably seems like a strange number 2, but the poverty I’ve witnessed here is definitely one of my top 5 most impressionable things. I’m not saying poverty doesn’t exist back home, because it certainly does, but here I see it on a daily basis and it makes it that much more real. Daily I pass men digging through the garbage cans, children begging and women trying to sell anything they can on the streets to earn a few pesos. It makes my heart ache, and it’s a daily reminder to be thankful for how fortunate I really am.

3. My ISA friends

I don’t know what I would do without them this semester. They make all the little struggles so much easier, and I’m going to miss them dearly when the semester is over.

Our crazy group of ISA students at the Halloween party

4. My host family

I’m so thankful for the host family experience. I love my talks with my host mom and my nightly UNO games with my little host sister. Living with a host family has given me the chance to get an insider’s perspective about life in the DR, and not to mention the home-cooked food at every meal!

5. Volunteering/Interning

On Thursdays, I volunteer at a children’s home as part of my community service class at school, and on Tuesdays I participate in service-learning at a local clinic through ISA Service-Learning. Having the chance to help this community in a small way is so rewarding, and I’m definitely getting just as much, if not more, back from the experience. It’s make my time here that much more special.

Passing out antibiotics to the kids at the children’s home

So there you have it! Time is flying by, and I can hardly believe it will soon be time to leave. I’m so thankful for every experience, good and challenging, here in Santiago. Here’s to making next month the best one yet!

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