Why did you choose to study abroad with SFS?
I chose SFS, and specifically the Rainforest Studies program in Australia, because I believe that it will challenge me in many ways. The rigorous curriculum that this particular program offers will challenge me academically, but the intensive fieldwork will help me gain the skills needed to excel as a field biologist. Although I had the desire to study in a tropical region, the remoteness of the Centre is likely to be a huge challenge for me personally. The Rainforest Studies program offers the opportunity to study in the Wet Tropics region, which contains unique Australian flora and fauna, which are of particular interest to me. Studying these will provide excellent insight into the evolutionary and ecological processes that shape all species. Similarly, the idea of being immersed in biodiversity and interacting with and learning from like-minded people will provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
What are your first impressions of the country?
Beautiful and unique; as you get off the plane in Cairns you are overwhelmed by the beautiful sky that leads up to the cloud drenched mountains that the rainforests inhabit. Rolling hills and farmland; this part of the country is home to multiple types of geographies. The rustic feel of a small and friendly town is truly visible and although there are many differences between here and the States, it already feels like home. People are friendly and welcoming, as well as willing to explain certain nuances that exist for the sojourner.
What are your first impressions of the field station?
The field station is in an absolutely beautiful location, well within the rainforest and surrounded by all sorts of wildlife. The immense green that surrounds it can be overwhelming at first, but after a few days of living here you start to feel part of it. The physical Centre is very well maintained; keeping in mind it is almost a mile into the rainforest. It has everything one (rather 29) needs to survive in a remote area such as this. The best thing is, we have a wonderful cook, Iris. Her home-cooked meals are by far the best thing about this place.
What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you this semester both academically and culturally?
Academically, the largest challenge for me will be taking the time to sit down and write. I believe, while here in a new environment, a new country and culture, finding time to write scientific papers and essays will be quite challenging… I hate to admit it; wanting to explore and wander off into the rainforest everyday might become very distracting for my studies! Australians hold very similar views and ideas that I hold myself and I think the biggest challenge culturally for me this semester will be going back to the States and readjusting to the different views and ideas that exist.
What are you looking forward to the most about the semester?
I am really looking forward to exploring and learning more about the Atherton Tablelands’ local culture and area. After being here for only a week, I can already see why this place is so unique and why SFS chose to have a field station here. I know this is going to be a wonderful semester!
Give three words that best describe how you are feeling right now.
Euphoric, Philosophical, Inquisitive