First Impressions of SFS Australia

Posted: September 12, 2013

Why did you choose to study abroad with SFS?
I chose to participate in the SFS program because I didn’t want the typical study abroad experience. While most programs only teach about the rainforest, SFS offers students the chance to experience the rainforest first-hand. Additionally, I was very interested in the field-based work and Directed Research project that the program offered.

What are your first impressions of the country?
When I first saw the rainforest a week ago, all I could think of was Jurassic Park. With the towering palm trees, vines, and thick mosses, I almost half expected a dinosaur to come barreling out of the forest. And the animals around here are so interesting they almost do look prehistoric. Take the cassowary, for example. But the strangest thing is that one minute you can be surrounded by dense rainforest and the next you’re be out in the wide, rolling hills of the Atherton Tablelands. The shift between the two landscapes is breathtaking.

What are your first impressions of the field station?
Living at the field station is better than I could have ever imagined.  Surrounding the station are tons of hiking trails, including one that leads to the giant Cathedral Fig Tree.  Exploring the rainforest has been great, and we have an ongoing study to see who can attract the most terrestrial leeches over the semester.  On top of that, the station is loaded with things to keep us busy and having fun.  We have movies, games, and a volleyball court…after playing a few rounds, it’s clear our volleyball skills need some improving.  And all of that isn’t even mentioning how amazing the food is!  Overall, the first week at the station has been a ton of fun and I’m looking forward to calling it my home for the next few months.

What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you this semester both academically and culturally?
I think my biggest academic challenge this semester will be the Directed Research project.  I haven’t had the opportunity to conduct a research project to this extent before and in all honesty I am a bit intimidated by it.  However, I feel that it will be a valuable learning experience for me and I will come out of this semester with a much better grasp on how to conduct research.

I think the biggest cultural challenge I will face this semester will be adjusting to the different Australian terminology.  For example, a black coffee here is known as a long black and a sweater is a jumper.  I never really know what to say.

What are you looking forward to the most about the semester?
I am looking forward to not knowing what each day has in store for me.  Every day here is unexpected.  I never know what I am going to see or do.  A few nights ago I was walking back to my cabin from the center and I saw a pademelon!  I can’t wrap my head around the fact that I’m finally here.  I’m so excited to experience Australian wildlife, culture, everything!

Give three words that best describe you right now.
I am thrilled to be here, excited to experience the wonders of the rainforest, and curious to see what adventures this semester has in store for me.