Name: Matthew Manley
School: Clark University
SFS Program: Rainforest Studies, Australia
Why did you choose to study abroad with SFS?
It seemed like a great opportunity to gain important skills in my field while studying in a new exciting place. Australia is an incredible country that I have always been interested in. This just seemed like too good an opportunity to pass up.
What were your first impressions of Australia?
The sheer beauty of the countryside was the first thing I noticed. The rolling green hills interrupted by sprawling mountain ranges of rainforest are an absolutely incredible sight to see. Driving anywhere is a pleasure and everything is new and exciting. The people have been very welcoming thus far although I do feel like they like to pull your leg a bit about being an American student in Australia. Living within the rainforest has made for an interesting dynamic as well. Most Australians don’t live in the rainforest so we are living differently than most people would.
What were you first impressions of The SFS Center for Rainforest Studies?
It is an incredible place to be. You are surrounded on all sides by beautiful rainforest. Walking to and from your cabins forces you to experience the forest as much as possible. Although the placement is rural, the Center has all the amenities and is pretty self-contained. The food has been great thus far thanks to our incredible chef, Iris. The Center is definitely small by most standards but it acts as a great meeting place for all of us.
What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you this semester both academically and culturally?
The academic schedules are definitely going to be rigorous. Based on the outline of the coursework thus far it seems like it is going to be a very busy semester. This is exciting though because we will be kept busy with not only indoor lectures but extensive outdoor field work and trips around the area to learn through real life examples. I have not encountered any problems thus far culturally aside from the local Australian humor which can be a bit dry at times!
What are you looking forward to the most about the semester?
I am especially excited for the longer trips that we will be taking throughout the area. Also I am looking forward to the Directed Research portion of the semester. It seems like that will be a great experience in which students can really study what they are particularly interested in.
Give three words that best describe how you are feeling right now.
Excited, tired, hot!