First Impressions of SFS Turks & Caicos Islands

Posted: September 13, 2013

Why did you choose to study abroad with SFS?
I wanted something that was not the typical study abroad experience—i.e. go to a foreign country, enroll in classes, have a college experience in a new culture. I don’t want to lessen the experience of people who do study abroad in that way, but I wanted to do something different—to break the usual college routine and find something that I would not be able to do anywhere else.

What are you first impressions of the country?
My first view of the Turks and Caicos Islands was of a lot of turquoise water and not a lot of houses. When we were driving through Providenciales on our way to get the ferry to South Caicos, I noticed that there were some nicer looking buildings sticking their heads through some pretty rundown neighborhoods—not as segregated as it is in the United States. When we first got to South Caicos, there were people lined up to welcome us, and the Student Affair Manager told us that they had been anticipating our arrival for weeks. Combining these observations, I’d say that my first overall impression of the TCI is that it’s a beautifully located small community that, to me, is surprisingly close-knit.

What are you first impressions of the field station?
I’ve taken to thinking of it as sketchy in a cheerful sort of way. No, I haven’t showered in a while, but hey, I’ve been scuba diving!  No, I’m not wearing clean clothes, but hey, neither is anyone else! No, the town surrounding the Center is not what I’d call prosperous, but hey, we’re working to improve it and everyone (including the SFS students) loves our community outreach days!

What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you this semester both academically and culturally?
The Field Prep Guide that SFS puts together did a thorough job at telling me what I can expect this semester: rigorous academics and a very small, relatively isolated island. Because of that, none of the foreseeable challenges are a shock to me. Academically, I think the change from my usual humanities classes to focusing only on science and the different style of learning that that entails will be the most challenging. At the moment, as I learn my way around the town, the biggest cultural challenge for me is the fact that it’s hard to tell which poorly-labeled street of small, worn buildings is which, as trivial as that sounds.

What are you looking forward to the most about the semester?
On our first snorkeling trip, the interns were guiding us through the coral reef at a site called Admiral’s Aquarium, pointing out the different types of organisms, identifying them for us, and answering our questions about them.  I think I’m most looking forward to being able to do that myself—to swim through a reef, or mangroves, or a seagrass meadow, and know what I’m seeing and how it interacts with its environment.

Give three words that best describe how you are feeling right now.
Anticipatory, relaxed, smelly