Name: Matt Manley
School: Clark University
Major: Environmental Studies
Program: Rainforest Studies, Australia
What did you like most about the SFS experience?
Getting to know so many incredible people in a way that most people only know their closest friends. It was hard to live with so many people in close quarters sometimes, but I believe that the experience is vastly rewarding and allows you to make friendships that you will remember forever.
You’ve been in the country for a full semester – tell us your impressions of it now.
Australia is an interesting place. It’s hard to pin it down, even after a few months. I find that it is not so different from the United States. In terms of the environment, I think it is totally unique from any place that I have ever been or am likely to visit. The culture is rich with dry humor, strange sports, and pride in their country.
The field station is an incredible place to live. I already miss it, though I would never say that when it was raining for days on end. It is a truly self-contained workstation in the middle of a beautiful rainforest. Though this isn’t conducive to certain things (like internet or barefooted meanderings), it is highly conducive to getting an appreciation for where you are by allowing you to go to bed and wake up in the place that you are studying. This is such a unique and inspiring experience for anyone that wants to truly understand the environment in which they live in.
What ended up being your biggest challenge this semester both academically and culturally?
I think that I was most challenged academically by the Directed Research. This was appropriate, as it really gives you the freedom to study what you want. I chose a relatively difficult topic and thus was met with a significant challenge. However, throughout the process I was encouraged and guided in such a way that maintained my sanity and helped me create a better project. In the end it was an incredibly worthwhile experience.
What is the best memory you have from the semester? Give some highlights.
There are too many! Although I’m sure everyone says that. I do remember one moment when I was out on a run to the Cathedral Fig and it was one of those days where the clouds are just incredible and feel so close that you can touch them. It was also towards the end of the semester and I remember feeling truly blessed to be able to be in a place like that for a whole semester. I’d have to say my favorite group experience was the talent show at the end of the semester. It was so great and everyone was so happy. My favorite place was Josephine Falls, which was an incredible waterfall I visited during spring break. It was perhaps one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen in my life!
Give three adjectives that best describe how you are feeling right now.
Grateful, confused, nostalgic.