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My roommate Jory Pestorious, 21, Pharm.D. at the U of M, studied ethnobotany in Hawaii over winter break. The class, Plants in Human Affairs, is a 12 day, 4 credit program and is run through the  Center of Spirituality and Healing.

Jory’s tip for those going abroad:

Don’t go, because you won’t want to come back.

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My guess is that when most people make plans to go to an island in the Pacific, they imagine Hawaii, or maybe the Galapagos Islands. I doubt that anyone would cite the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a floating, seldom-publicized mass of trash the size of Texas, as their number one destination.

Yet the journalists at VICE, an independent, New York-based media company, made a fascinating trip to the island that they captured on video. They traveled with Capt. Charles Moore of the Oceanographic Research Vessel Alguita, who is credited with discovering the Patch north of Hawaii.

It is not an urban myth. The heap of refuse, which pressure zones and ocean currents cause to swirl in place, contains everything from life preservers and water bottles to hard hats and motorcycle tires. Moore’s team of oceanographers collected samples from the “chemical soup” caused by miles of non-biodegradable plastic, nearly 80 percent of which originates on land.

If a trash island really is your dream destination, begin by checking out Capt. Moore’s research foundation, or a research-based study abroad program through the University of Minnesota.

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