Indiana State University Newsroom



Sycamores conduct fieldwork abroad

September 13, 2017

Matt Bly had to make sacrifices in order to graduate in three years from Indiana State University, but forgoing the opportunity to study abroad wasn't one of them.

The 2017 graduate opted this summer to turn the required fieldwork for his earth and environmental systems major into a two-month, international experience, including six weeks at field camps in Sardinia, Italy - the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.

"I really wanted to study abroad but didn't have the opportunity since I wanted to graduate in three years. In the geoscience major at Indiana State, though, it is a requirement to complete a field study, and I jumped at the opportunity to go overseas to complete this," said Bly, who graduated with a bachelor's degree in August. "I chose to go to Sardinia, Italy, because it has an extremely unique geology, and it's a beautiful location in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea."

Bly was one of three Sycamores, along with Joshua Pigg and Matt Barley, who elected to complete their fieldwork abroad this summer. Bly's fieldwork allowed him to travel from Cagliari, a larger city on southern hub of the island, to the northernmost city of Alghero.

"I had never done anything to this extent, but I had done some field mapping through Indiana State's geology program, and I was well-prepared for this experience because of the courses I took at ISU," Bly said. "We started our experience in the northern part of the island and worked our way south, mapping the shoreline and rocks. At the end of the day, we would come back from the field area and go snorkeling or spend the afternoon at the beach. Snorkeling was my favorite thing to do in the afternoon because the climate was so hot and there was an immense amount of marine life in the areas we were staying."

Pigg's time at Indiana State prepared him for geological field camp in Turkey, where he applied the concepts he learned in the classroom to identifying rocks and interpreting their geological background. Navigating a new culture, though, was an eye-opening experience.

"Being in a new culture and environment that was so different than what I'm used to took some getting used to, but it really pushed me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to see things differently," said Pigg, an earth and environmental science major from Terre Haute who graduated in August. "There was a learning curve being over there, but what you really learn is that we, as people, have more in common than we think."

For Barley of Terre Haute, a senior earth and environmental science major with a concentration in geoscience, the five-week experience through the University of St. Andrews in Scotland exposed him to new people, places and experiences before heading into his final semesters at Indiana State.

"I could have chosen to go to a site in the States, but I've always wanted to study abroad," he said. "This opportunity at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland was a newer field camp, and it was at one of the most accredited geology universities in the United Kingdom."

Each day, Barley and 34 other American students piled in two, 16-passenger vans to take a 30-minute drive to the mapping location. Assignments involved five to six days at the sites, where students worked from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. plotting the location and its geologic features and using background information on the area that they were supplied and their own knowledge to make conclusions on how the features were formed.

"We toured Scotland as we did our field mapping, starting in St. Andrews. We went to Aberdeen, which is the largest city we went to, then to Portsoy and Inverness, which is famous for its Loch Ness. We traveled to Durness in the northernmost part of Scotland and rode the western coast all the way down before we took a ferry to the Isle of Mull, where we spent the end of our experience," Barley said. "The thing about Scotland is it doesn't get dark until about 1 a.m. during the summer and then it gets light again around 4:30 or 5 a.m., so we'd fall asleep really late and wake up really early. But it was fun and it is where I got to know a lot of the other students better and spend quality time with the professors."

Bly built a similar relationship while working side-by-side with four professors and 20 American college students. Although he was eager to return home, graduate the following month and begin his career as a field technician at Professional Services Industry in his hometown of Bloomington, Ill., Bly can't wait for his next overseas adventure.

"My experience abroad was more than worth the money because it ended up being the best experience of my life," he said. "It never felt like schoolwork. The experience solidified my passion for geology as a career, and I got to make amazing friends there. I know I've only been home a few months, but I'm already planning my next trip back."

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Photo: https://photos.smugmug.com/Other/Media-Services/Submitted-Photos/Staff-Uploads/i-3FL6kgq/0/3529632b/O/Matt%20Bly%20in%20Italy2.jpg - Indiana State University alumnus Matt Bly, '17, of Bloomington, Ill., stops to have his picture taken during six weeks of fieldwork this summer in Sardinia, Italy - the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Bly, who graduated in August with his bachelor's degree in earth and environmental systems, chose to conduct his required fieldwork abroad before graduating in three years.

Photo: https://photos.smugmug.com/Other/Media-Services/Submitted-Photos/Staff-Uploads/i-z7rjBWk/0/0c598945/XL/Matt%20Bly%20and%20class%20in%20Italy-XL.jpg - Indiana State University alumnus Matt Bly, '17, of Bloomington, Ill., and his fellow American students receive instruction during their six weeks of fieldwork this summer in Sardinia, Italy - the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Bly, who graduated in August with his bachelor's degree in earth and environmental systems, chose to conduct his required fieldwork abroad before graduating in three years.

Photo: https://photos.smugmug.com/Other/Media-Services/Submitted-Photos/Staff-Uploads/i-xb6ZtSM/0/98199096/O/Matt%20Bly%20in%20Italy.jpg - Indiana State University alumnus Matt Bly, '17, of Bloomington, Ill., stops to have his picture taken during six weeks of fieldwork this summer in Sardinia, Italy - the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Bly, who graduated in August with his bachelor's degree in earth and environmental systems, chose to conduct his required fieldwork abroad before graduating in three years.

Photo: https://photos.smugmug.com/Other/Media-Services/Submitted-Phot os/Staff-Uploads/i-xts9rFD/0/3a58a445/XL/Barley1Scotland-XL.jpg - Indiana State University earth and environmental science major Matt Barley, '18, of Terre Haute, poses with the scenery during fieldwork in Scotland '18, the five-week experience through the University of St. Andrews in Scotland this summer.

Photo: https://photos.smugmug.com/Other/Media-Services/Submitted-Photos/Staff-Uploads/i-nwTNZTm/0/26158daf/XL/Barley2Scotland-XL.jpg - Indiana State University earth and environmental science major Matt Barley, '18, of Terre Haute, poses with the scenery during fieldwork in Scotland '18, the five-week experience through the University of St. Andrews in Scotland this summer.

Photo: https://photos.smugmug.com/Other/Media-Services/Submitted-Photos/Staff-Uploads/i-pWDtcf6/0/127a220d/XL/Turkey-XL.jpg - Indiana State University alumnus Joshua Pigg, '17, an earth and environmental science major from Terre Haute who graduated in August, captures a photo of the Turkish scenery during his fieldwork abroad this summer in Turkey.

Photo: https://photos.smugmug.com/Other/Media-Services/Submitted-Photos/Staff-Uploads/i-cXhMgQX/0/4c87cb48/XL/Turkey2-XL.jpg - Indiana State University alumnus Joshua Pigg, '17, an earth and environmental science major from Terre Haute who graduated in August, captures a photo of the Turkish scenery during his fieldwork abroad this summer in Turkey.

Writer: Betsy Simon, media relations assistant director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-7972 or betsy.simon@indstate.edu

Story Highlights

Three Sycamores elected to complete their required fieldwork abroad this summer, allowing them to simultaneously get mapping experience while seeing the world.

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