Name: Alex Jandernoa
School: Knox College
Major: Environmental Studies and Anthropology/Sociology
Program: Sustainable Development Studies, Costa Rica
What did you like most about the SFS experience?
I would have to say the Directed Research has been my favorite part of my term with SFS, alhough it is hard to choose. I came into the program wanting to get my hands dirty in the field and really hone my scientific writing while here. The Directed Research has allowed me to do just, that as I trekked through a local forest fragment for a week collecting samples which, with the help of the wonderful professors here, I have turned into a promising research paper.
You’ve been in the country for a full semester – tell us your impressions of it now.
Costa Rica is just as amazing as when I first arrived here. I feel as though I have done so much in my time here and it still holds so many mysteries. I have felt nothing but welcome in this country where I am very clearly a foreigner. Costa Rica has truly been the perfect classroom for learning about myself.
What is life at the field station really like? What are the best and the most challenging parts of living at a remote field station?
The best and worst part of living at the field station has to be the close quarters. There are 36 of us here and I enjoy every single person’s company, but sometimes it can be overwhelming with that many people. However, as the station is remote it allows me to escape to grab some personal time on campus by hiking in our protected forest or down in the orange and mango orchard, which is splendid.
What ended up being your biggest challenge this semester both academically and culturally?
I think the biggest challenge was keeping up with the program. We were always doing something new in the classroom or exploring some new aspect of the Tico culture. It was challenging, but in the best way possible. It made me just jump right in to whatever was happening and really enjoy the moment.
What is the best memory you have from the semester? Give some highlights.
I think my best memory from the program would have to be traveling during my spring break. I backpacked through Costa Rica to Panama with other students from the Center. I grew very close with my classmates and it was so much fun sharing our experiences with SFS with other travelers from all over the world. I already have plans to meet up with new friends on my next adventure.
Give three adjectives that best describes how you are feeling right now.
Excited, Knowledgeable, Pleased